Accurately counting cells in microscopic images is important for medical diagnoses and biological studies, but manual cell counting is very tedious, time-consuming, and prone to subjective errors, and automatic counting can be less accurate than desired. To improve the accuracy of automatic cell counting, we propose here a novel method that employs deeply-supervised density regression. A fully convolutional neural network (FCNN) serves as the primary FCNN for density map regression. Innovatively, a set of auxiliary FCNNs are employed to provide additional supervision for learning the intermediate layers of the primary CNN to improve network performance. In addition, the primary CNN is designed as a concatenating framework to integrate multi-scale features through shortcut connections in the network, which improves the granularity of the features extracted from the intermediate CNN layers and further supports the final density map estimation. The experimental results on immunofluorescent images of human embryonic stem cells demonstrate the superior performance of the proposed method over other state-of-the-art methods.
Accurate cell counting in microscopic images is important for medical diagnoses and biological studies. However, manual cell counting is very time-consuming, tedious, and prone to subjective errors. We propose a new density regression-based method for automatic cell counting that reduces the need to manually annotate experimental images. A supervised learning-based density regression model (DRM) is trained with annotated synthetic images (the source domain) and their corresponding ground truth density maps. A domain adaptation model (DAM) is built to map experimental images (the target domain) to the feature space of the source domain. By use of the unsupervised learning-based DAM and supervised learning-based DRM, a cell density map of a given target image can be estimated, from which the number of cells can be counted. Results from experimental immunofluorescent microscopic images of human embryonic stem cells demonstrate the promising performance of the proposed counting method.