Cell counting from cell cultures is required in multiple biological and biomedical research applications. Especially, accurate brightfield-based cell counting methods are needed for cell growth analysis. With deep learning, cells can be detected with high accuracy, but manually annotated training data is required. We propose a method for cell detection that requires annotated training data for one cell line only, and generalizes to other, unseen cell lines. Results: Training a deep learning model with one cell line only can provide accurate detections for similar unseen cell lines (domains). However, if the new domain is very dissimilar from training domain, high precision but lower recall is achieved. Generalization capabilities of the model can be improved with training data transformations, but only to a certain degree. To further improve the detection accuracy of unseen domains, we propose iterative unsupervised domain adaptation method. Predictions of unseen cell lines with high precision enable automatic generation of training data, which is used to train the model together with parts of the previously used annotated training data. We used U-Net-based model, and three consecutive focal planes from brightfield image z-stacks. We trained the model initially with PC-3 cell line, and used LNCaP, BT-474 and 22Rv1 cell lines as target domains for domain adaptation. Highest improvement in accuracy was achieved for 22Rv1 cells. F1-score after supervised training was only 0.65, but after unsupervised domain adaptation we achieved a score of 0.84. Mean accuracy for target domains was 0.87, with mean improvement of 16 percent.
With our method for generalized cell detection, we can train a model that accurately detects different cell lines from brightfield images. A new cell line can be introduced to the model without a single manual annotation, and after iterative domain adaptation the model is ready to detect these cells with high accuracy.
- Cell detection
- Deep learning
- Semi-supervised learning
- Unsupervised domain adaptation
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