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  1. Brown, Thomas G. ; Wilson, Tony ; Waller, Laura (Ed.)
  2. Chondrocyte viability is a crucial factor in evaluating cartilage health. Most cell viability assays rely on dyes and are not applicable forin vivoor longitudinal studies. We previously demonstrated that two-photon excited autofluorescence and second harmonic generation microscopy provided high-resolution images of cells and collagen structure; those images allowed us to distinguish live from dead chondrocytes by visual assessment or by the normalized autofluorescence ratio. However, both methods require human involvement and have low throughputs. Methods for automated cell-based image processing can improve throughput. Conventional image processing algorithms do not perform well on autofluorescence images acquired by nonlinear microscopes due to low image contrast. In this study, we compared conventional, machine learning, and deep learning methods in chondrocyte segmentation and classification. We demonstrated that deep learning significantly improved the outcome of the chondrocyte segmentation and classification. With appropriate training, the deep learning method can achieve 90% accuracy in chondrocyte viability measurement. The significance of this work is that automated imaging analysis is possible and should not become a major hurdle for the use of nonlinear optical imaging methods in biological or clinical studies.