Tracking Cells in Motion: How Do Immune Cells Break Down Barriers When Migrating?

Cells-in-Motion Podcast | Episode 6

Photos

The mathematical model of ‘Optical Flows' is used in tracking methods. Tracking, in general, means following an object in its movement to a destination. This method is also useful for biological questions.
© CiM - Peter Leßmann
  • Dr. Christoph Brune (center) and PhD student Lena Frerking from the Institute of Applied Mathematics develop a specific tracking method for the biological question posed by Professor Dietmar Vestweber (left).
    © CiM - Peter Leßmann
  • Dietmar Vestweber would like to track individual cells, which move from A to B. More specifically, he investigates immune cells that invade from the bloodstream into the inflamed tissue.
    © CiM - Peter Leßmann
  • For the researchers it is of interest how the cell deforms during migration, and what forces it spends to move forward. This internal force distribution of a single cell is shown here in the color scale.
    © CiM - Peter Leßmann
  • In the joint project of Professor Dietmar Vestweber and Dr. Christoph Brune, scientific models for cell migration through the vascular wall can now be tested empirically. This promises new approaches to treat chronic inflammation.
    © CiM - Peter Leßmann

Tracking is known for example from online shopping: You can follow your order from where it is located in the delivery process to the time the postman will ring. Thus, tracking means following the movement of an object over a period of time. Mathematician Dr. Christoph Brune is modelling such motion sequences in order to simulate the next possible movement of an object. For biomedicine, these models are very helping – since there are many cells in our body ever in motion.

Prof. Dietmar Vestweber is interested in cells that migrate into tissue during inflammation. In order to reach the tissue, they first have to break down a barrier. By using tracking-methods, Dietmar Vestweber wants to gain knowledge on the pathway cells take in order to overcome the barrier and migrate into tissue. In applied mathematics, some tricks are utilized: The live images of the organism, taken by a fluorescence microscope, are optimized by methods like inpainting and de-blurring to sharpen the images. Sharper edges allow to segregate one cell from the other. The team also focuses on the inner forces a cell brings up to move forward.