Yuan et al. Stem Cell Research & Therapy (2019) 10:38 https://doi.org/10.1186/s13287-019-1141-0
Adipogenesis is essential in in vitro experimentation to assess differentiation capability of stem cells, and therefore, its accurate measurement is important. Quantitative analysis of adipogenic levels, however, is challenging and often susceptible to errors due to non-specific reading or manual estimation by observers. To this end, we developed a novel adipocyte quantification algorithm, named Fast Adipogenesis Tracking System (FATS), based on computer vision libraries. The FATS algorithm is versatile and capable of accurately detecting and quantifying percentage of cells undergoing adipogenic and browning differentiation even under difficult conditions such as the presence of large cell clumps or high cell densities. The algorithm was tested on various cell lines including 3T3-L1 cells, adipose-derived mesenchymal stem cells (ASCs), and induced pluripotent stem cell (iPSC)-derived cells. The FATS algorithm is particularly useful for adipogenic measurement of embryoid bodies derived from pluripotent stem cells and was capable of accurately distinguishing adipogenic cells from false-positive stains. We then demonstrate the effectiveness of the FATS algorithm for screening of nuclear receptor ligands that affect adipogenesis in the high-throughput manner. Together, the FATS offer a universal and automated image-based method to quantify adipocyte differentiation of different cell lines in both standard and high-throughput workflows.
The work was supported by intramural funding from Biomedical Research Council (BMRC) of A*STAR Singapore.
Full paper can also be downloaded from https://doi.org/10.1186/s13287-019-1141-0