Organization of the organoid models, imaged in 3D with a confocal microscope, is an essential morphometric index to assess responses to stress or therapeutic targets. In fact, differentiating malignant and normal cells is often difficult in monolayer cultures. But in 3D culture, colony organization can provide a clear set of indices for differentiating malignant and normal cells. The limiting factors are delineating each cell in a 3D colony in the presence of perceptual boundaries between adjacent cells and heterogeneity associated with cells being at different cell cycles.


In a previous paper, we defined a potential field for delineating adjacent nuclei, with perceptual boundaries, in 2D histology images by coupling three deep networks. This concept is now extended to 3D and simplified by an enhanced cost function that replaces three deep networks with one. Validation includes four cell lines with diverse mutations, and a comparative analysis with the UNet models of microscopy indicates an improved performance with the F1-score of 0.83.

Availability and implementation

All software and annotated images are available through GitHub and Bioinformatics online. The software includes the proposed method, UNet for microscopy that was extended to 3D and report generation for profiling colony organization.

Supplementary information

Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

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