Cell Motility and Cell Migration

Cell Motility and Cell Migration play important roles in cell biology research

The study of cell migration and cell motility is of great importance to understand diseases. Cell migration can be the cause of cancer progression and metastatic cancer cells. Cell motility is regarded as random cell movement, occurring in almost every cell culture, while cell migration is a response. Cell tracking can be used to distinguish between these parameters.

Single-cell tracking using HoloMonitor® Track Cells Functionality

The most advanced and powerful feature of HoloMonitor is the single cell tracking functionality that allows monitoring and analysis of cell motility, cell migration and morphology of selected cells.

Details and changes over time is provided for each cell included in the analysis, and in mean values for the selected population.

Identify and analyze individual cells or sub-populations of cells

The HoloMonitor technology provides easy identification of individual cells. Single cells can thus be selected for tracking enabling in depth analysis of cell movements and changes in morphology over time. When preferred all data can easily be exported  for further analysis.

The tracking data can be displayed in a graph format (left) or directly overlaid on the cell images (right). 

Distinguish between cell motility and cell migration

Cell movement is categorized both by non-directional cell motility speed and by directional cell migration velocity. Cell motility is regarded as random cell movement, occurring in almost every cell culture, while cell migration is a response to a cell attractant or repellent. Cell tracking can be used to distinguish between these parameters.

Video showing L929 cells, first untreated and thereafter treated with colcemid. Note how the drug influences cell motility.

Example how different cells in a population may behave.

Using HoloMonitor® for Motility and Migration Studies

The HoloMonitor® system offers unambiguous, non-invasive quantification of cell migration and motility allowing users to automatically track cell movements over time. Analysis of cell motility and migration can be used for e.g. chemotaxis studies and to assess drug impact on motility.

  • Robust segmentation and tracking of cells of interest.
  • Cell motility speed and cell migration velocity measurements.
  • Directness, i.e. the ratio of migration and motility, indicating how direct a cell or a cell population moves.
  • Non-invasive nature allows subsequent cellular staining for further analysis upon conclusion of holographic imaging.
  • Flexibility for advanced single-cell migration and motility analysis.

When preferred, further analyses can be undertaken for details on cell morphology and other parameters.

Key Publications


  • Moving into a New Dimension: Tracking Migrating Cells with Digital Holographic Cytometry in 3D
    A. Görloff Wingren
    Cytometry Part A (2018)
    Commentary article discussing the fundamental role of cell movement studies in cancer research. Advantages of the HoloMonitor Track Cells and Wound Healing modules over the transwell migration and invasion assays are highlighted, and includes the possibility to use the cells in experiments for other purposes after completing the imaging. In addition to single cell tracking, the HoloMonitor technology also benefits from the fact that morphology analysis can be performed of each cell. The author concludes that this indeed opens up for almost unlimited possibilities to perform cell morphology analysis using this methodology, since each image is very rich in cellular information.
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  • Evaluation of Holographic Imaging Cytometer HoloMonitor M4 Motility Applications
    Y. Zhang and R. L. Judson
    Cytometry Part A (2018)

    The HoloMonitor software modules for cell tracking and wound healing analysis were evaluated and compared to the more conventional methods transwell migration and transwell invasion. Both HoloMonitor modules were found to be well-correlated with established standards, yielded reproducible results, and at the same time offered distinct advantages. The wound healing assay was the most tractable and automated method with good reproducibility, while the cell tracking module enabled identification of hypermobile subpopulations.

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  • Single cell analysis of proliferation and movement of cancer and normal-like cells on nanowire array substrates
    Li Z. et al.
    J. Mater. Chem. B (2018)

    The article presents a single cell analysis of cell cycle and cell movement parameters of cells seeded on nanowires using HoloMonitor M4 for time-lapse imaging. Nanowires are presently investigated in the context of various biological and medical applications. In general, these studies are population-based, which results in sub-populations being overlooked. Altogether, this study highlight the importance of performing single cell analysis to increase our understanding of the versatility of cell behavior on different substrates.

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