Live Cell Imaging

With the variety of fluorescent proteins and multicolored probes that have been developed, it is now possible to label virtually any molecule. The ability to visualize protein dynamics in vesicles, organelles, cells, and tissues has provided new insights into how cells function in healthy and disease states. These insights include the spatiotemporal dynamics of processes like mitosis, embryonic development, and cytoskeleton changes. 

When studying live cells, common obstacles include phototoxicity and photodamage. To capture fast biological processes, it is crucial to keep the cells healthy and obtain crisp images for reliable data that are free of artifacts. Live‐cell microscopy often requires a compromise between image quality and cell health. During imaging, certain environmental conditions must be maintained to avoid changes in the cells. 

A variety of high-performance Leica imaging solutions can overcome these challenges for live-cell imaging enabling new information for cellular physiology and dynamics to be discovered. 

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Our experts on solutions for live cell imaging applications are happy to help you with their advice.

Cell Viability & Dynamics During Imaging

Leica Microsystems provides you with intelligent innovations in live-cell imaging. Our solutions help you get the best image quality while protecting your samples.

Most cellular processes occur in 3 dimensions over time. Therefore, cells need to be imaged in four dimensions (XYZ and time) to obtain a complete picture. Time‐lapse imaging is used to capture cell events over timescales from seconds to months. Repeated imaging of cells at particular points in time is also possible. To protect cell viability during this process, live-cell imaging requires the temperature, pH, and humidity to be kept under control. Light exposure should also be at a minimum to avoid phototoxicity.

Leica Microsystems offers imaging solutions that help optimize your study of live cells, even over long periods of time. They provide the necessary image contrast and resolution to facilitate the analysis of dynamic events. Some Leica systems also enable high-speed imaging, so no key cellular events are missed. 

Your Live Cell Imaging Needs

To perform successful live-cell imaging experiments, using the right platform is critical. When choosing an optical microscope for live‐cell imaging, the following 3 variables should be considered: detector sensitivity (signal‐to‐noise ratio), specimen viability, and image-acquisition speed. 

Methods suitable for live-cell applications enable visualization of the dynamics without causing cell damage, as it can affect the results. 

Live‐cell imaging is mainly performed with fluorescence microscopy. Widefield microscopy, providing flexible excitation and fast acquisition, is typically used to visualize cell dynamics and development over long times. Confocal microscopy is typically used to study subcellular dynamic events. Multiphoton microscopy alllows excitation with longer wavelength light reducing photobleaching and extending cell viability. Finally, fluorescence lifetime imaging (FLIM) can be applied to study fast dynamic signaling events in cells.

Leica Microsystems offers the latest innovations in widefield and confocal imaging technologies for fast 3D live cell imaging with the THUNDER Imagers, STELLARIS confocal platform, and FLIM.

Live Cell Imaging Products

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STELLARIS - Confocal Microscope Platform

STELLARIS

With the STELLARIS confocal platform, we have re-imagined confocal microscopy to get you closer to the truth.

THUNDER Imager Model Organism

The THUNDER Imager Model Organism allows fast and easy 3D exploration of whole organisms for developmental or molecular biology research.

THUNDER Imager 3D Cell Culture

THUNDER Imager Live Cell & 3D Cell Culture & 3D Assay

THUNDER Imagers provide you with a solution for advanced 3D cell culture assays, whether you want to study stem cells, spheroids, or organoids.

THUNDER Imager Tissue

The THUNDER Imager Tissue allows real-time fluorescence imaging of 3D tissue sections typically used in neuroscience and histology research.

Digital Light Sheet Microscoep STELLARIS DLS

STELLARIS DLS

Discover new applications by combining confocal and light-sheet microscopy

Inverted Microscope for Cell and Tissue Culture

Leica DMi1

Entry level inverted microscope

Inverted Laboratory Microscope with LED Illumination

Leica DM IL LED

Inverted Laboratory Microscope with LED Illumination

Monochrome Digital Camera for Ultra-fast Live Cell Imaging and Superb Fluorescence Documentation

Leica DFC365 FX

1.4 MP cooled monochrome camera for standard live cell imaging of GFP-expressing cells and tissues

About Live Cell Imaging

Besides the structural organization of cells or organs, dynamic processes are a major contributor to a functioning biological entity. Naturally, these processes can be best observed in living cells with non-invasive techniques like optical methods, collectively called “live-cell imaging” methods. Live-cell imaging covers all techniques where live cells are observed with microscopes – from the observation of embryogenesis with stereo microscopes, via cell growth studies with compound microscopes, until studies of physiological states of cells or cellular transport using fluorescent dyes or proteins. Although being highly demanding for both, experimenter and equipment (e.g. imaging systems, climate control), live-cell imaging techniques deliver results that are indispensable for present-day research.

Putting Dynamic Live Cell Data into the Ultrastructural Context

With the Leica Nano Workflow, searching for a needle in the haystack is a thing of the past. Take advantage of correlative light and electron microscopy to identify directly the right cell at the…
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Electroporated nerve cells (green), specific neuronal markers (magenta) and cell nuclei (white), computational cleared.

Into the Third Dimension with "Wow Effect"- Observe Cells in 3D and Real-Time

Life is fast, especially for a cell. As a rule, cells should be examined under physiological conditions which are as close as possible to their natural environment. New technologies offer tremendous…
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Lung organoid taken at the "liquid-air interface" with a THUNDER Imager 3D Cell Culture

Observing 3D Cell Cultures During Development

3D cell cultures, such as organoids and spheroids, give insights into cells and their interactions with their microenvironment. These 3D cell cultures are playing an increasingly important role for…
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Virally labeled neurons (red) and astrocytes (green) in a cortical spheroid derived from human induced pluripotent stem cells.

Download The Guide to Live Cell Imaging

In life science research, live cell imaging is an indispensable tool to visualize cells in a state as in vivo as possible. This E-book reviews a wide range of important considerations to take to…
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A Quality Metric for the Systematic Evaluation of Clearing Protocols

3D multicellular spheroids are of interest for studying tumor behavior and evaluating the response of pharmacologically active agents, because they mimic the in vivo tumor environment better than…
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Improvement of Imaging Techniques to Understand Organelle Membrane Cell Dynamics

Understanding cell functions in normal and tumorous tissue is a key factor in advancing research of potential treatment strategies and understanding why some treatments might fail. Single-cell…
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Plant Cell Development and Morphogenesis

The article discusses how tubulin molecules, which make up microtubules, in plant cells can be studied with total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) microscopy to better understand tubulin…
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Studying Autoimmune Disease

This article discusses how autoimmune diseases, like systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), can be studied more efficiently using thick, 3D kidney tissue specimens visualized with a THUNDER Imager . SLE…
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A New World of Confocal Applications with the Next Generation White Light Lasers

As biological questions get more complex, there is an increasing need to study multiple events simultaneously in the same specimen. When preparing the specimen for imaging experiments, this need is…
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Studying Human Brain Development and Disease

Neural spheroids created from human induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) provide effective and novel tools for studying brain development, as well as the underlying pathological mechanisms of…
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Advanced Quantitative Fluorescence Microscopy to Probe the Molecular Dynamics of Viral Entry

Viral entry into the host cell requires the coordination of many cellular and viral proteins in a precise order. Modern microscopy techniques are now allowing researchers to investigate these…
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iPSC cells

Studying Natural Killer (NK) Cells Derived from Induced Pluripotent Stem Cells (iPSC)

The study of natural killer (NK) cells holds tremendous promise for developing novel immunotherapies. NK cells derived from induced pluripotent stem cells (iPSCs) can be used to create an easily…
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Expanding the frontiers of confocal live cell imaging

To address the specific challenges of live cell confocal imaging and help researchers get closer to the truth, Leica Microsystems has re-imagined confocal microscopy, designing its entirely new…
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Microscopy in Virology

The coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, causing the Covid-19 disease effects our world in all aspects. Research to find immunization and treatment methods, in other words to fight this virus, gained highest…
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