Deep Learning Classification of Lipid Droplets in Quantitative Phase Images

Sheneman L, Stephanopoulos G, Vasdekis AE
PLoS One 16(4) 2021 Apr 5 e0249196


We report the application of supervised machine learning to the automated classification of lipid droplets in label-free, quantitative-phase images. By comparing various machine learning methods commonly used in biomedical imaging and remote sensing, we found convolutional neural networks to outperform others, both quantitatively and qualitatively. We describe our imaging approach, all implemented machine learning methods, and their performance with respect to computational efficiency, required training resources, and relative method performance measured across multiple metrics. Overall, our results indicate that quantitative-phase imaging coupled to machine learning enables accurate lipid droplet classification in single living cells. As such, the present paradigm presents an excellent alternative of the more common fluorescent and Raman imaging modalities by enabling label-free, ultra-low phototoxicity, and deeper insight into the thermodynamics of metabolism of single cells.

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