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. 

Simply get in touch!

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

Filter by Area of Application
STELLARIS - Confocal Microscope Platform

STELLARIS

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

STELLARIS 8 CRS

Explore label-free chemical imaging with Coherent Raman Scattering Microscopy

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.

Related Articles

Read our latest articles about Live Cell Imaging

The knowledge portal of Leica Microsystems offers scientific research and teaching material on the subjects of microscopy. The content is designed to support beginners, experienced practitioners and scientists alike in their everyday work and experiments.

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A Precise and Rapid Mapping Protocol for Correlative Light and Electron Microscopy of small invertebrate organisms

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Integrative Open-Source Software for Image Analysis in Biology

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Nobel Prize 2012 in Chemistry for Studies of G-Protein-Coupled Receptors

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Nobel Prize 2012 in Physiology or Medicine for Stem Cell Research

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Label-free FLIM

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FRET with FLIM

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Digital Camera Technologies for Scientific Bio-Imaging

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Scientific Illustration and Animation for Research Scientists

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Widefield fluorescence image of brest carcinoma tumor cells expressing GFP tagged cell adhesion Molecule CD44 that is expressed on the cell membrane, imagined in TIRF.

Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence (TIRF) Microscopy

Total internal reflection fluorescence (TIRF) is a special technique in fluorescence microscopy developed by Daniel Axelrod at the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor in the early 1980s. TIRF microscopy…
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TIRF Image of Tubulin

Applications of TIRF Microscopy in Life Science Research

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TIRF Microscopy Explores Cellular Transport Processes

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Fluorescence Live-Cell Imaging Techniques

The understanding of complex and/or fast cellular dynamics is an important step for exploring biological processes. Therefore, today’s life science research is increasingly focused on dynamic…
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The New Repository on the Block

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Ratiometric Imaging

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The Patch-Clamp Technique

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TIRF Microscopy of the Apical Membrane of Polarized Epithelial Cells

Application of TIRF microscopy (Total Internal Reflection Fluorescence) allows the visualization of structures at the apical surface of polarized epithelial cells that have been hidden in conventional…
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Mapping Billions of Synapses with Microscopy and Mathematics

A combination of widefield imaging techniques and image segmentation analysis enable researchers to map learning-induced functional changes in individual synapses throughout the hippocampus.
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Sniffing Out the Secrets of Social Behavior

Yet we are only just beginning to understand the complexities and functional differences of the sense of smell in mammals. Prof. Marc Spehr, head of the Department of Chemosensation at RWTH Aachen…
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Confocal Microscopy mosaic of a layer 4 in neuron filled in the barrel cortex of a living rat

Exploring the Concert of Neuronal Activities

Brain research using Confocal and Multiphoton Microscopy. Using imaging techniques such as confocal and two-photon microscopy, neuronal dendritic arborization of neurons and their synaptic…
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Stem Cell Biology in Cancer Research

The comprehension of stem cell biology and its molecular basis is now acquiring paramount importance in cancer research. The need to look at a single, possibly living, cell makes fluorescence…
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New Standard in Electrophysiology and Deep Tissue Imaging

The function of nerve and muscle cells relies on ionic currents flowing through ion channels. These ion channels play a major role in cell physiology. One way to investigate ion channels is to use…
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Exploring Cell Logistics

Using TIRF microscopy, scientists have been able to take a closer look at intracellular transport processes with the example of the galactose-binding protein Galectin-3, which has been identified as a…
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