Automated imaging and analysis of collective cell migration

Authors: Dr. Inge van Loosdregt, Denisa Daroti, Joffry Maltha



Collective cell migration is essential for normal development and functioning of the body. It is of importance for processes such as angiogenesis and wound repair. However, cell migration is also involved in a multitude of pathologies, including cancer metastasis.

In order to get more insight into collective cell migration, a variety of cell migration assays have been developed. One of the easiest and mostly used methods to investigate cell migration is the scratch assay (also called the wound healing assay). The scratch assay starts with the culture of a confluent monolayer of cells. Thereafter, a scratch is made in the monolayer to create a “wound”, this is generally done with a pipette tip. An image of the scratch is taken with a microscope at the initial and later timepoints to analyze the closure of the scratch over time. Generally, the scratch width, the percentage of closure and/or the migration speed are parameters derived from this assay.