Applying Pattern Recognition to High-Resolution Images to Determine Cellular Signaling Status

Michael F. Lohrer, Darrin M. Hanna, Yang Liu, Kang Hsin Wang, Fu-Tong Liu, Ted A. Laurence, Gang-yu Liu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Two frequently used tools to acquire high-resolution images of cells are scanning electron microscopy (SEM) and atomic force microscopy (AFM). The former provides a nanometer resolution view of cellular features rapidly and with high throughput, while the latter enables visualizing hydrated and living cells. In current practice, these images are viewed by eye to determine cellular status, e.g. activated versus resting. Automatic and quantitative data analysis is lacking. This work develops an algorithm of pattern recognition that works very effectively for AFM and SEM images. Using rat basophilic leukemia (RBL) cells, our approach creates a support vector machine (SVM) to automatically classify resting and activated cells. 10-fold cross-validation with cells that are known to be activated or resting gives a good estimate of the generalized classification results. The pattern recognition of AFM images achieves 100% accuracy, while SEM reaches 95.4% for our images as well as images published in prior literature. This outcome suggests that our methodology could become an important and frequently used tool for researchers utilizing AFM and SEM for structural characterization as well as determining cellular signaling status and function.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalIEEE Transactions on Nanobioscience
StateAccepted/In press - Jun 21 2017

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology
  • Medicine (miscellaneous)
  • Bioengineering
  • Biomedical Engineering
  • Pharmaceutical Science
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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