The development of, and results from an image analysis system are presented for automated detection and scoring of micronuclei in human peripheral blood lymphocytes. The system is part of the Rapid Automated Biodosimetry Tool, which was developed at the Center for High-Throughput Minimally Invasive Radiation Biodosimetry for rapid radiation dose assessment of many individuals based on single fingerstick samples of blood. Blood lymphocytes were subjected to the cytokinesis-block micronucleus assay and the images of cell cytoplasm and nuclei are analyzed to estimate the frequency of micronuclei in binucleated cells. We describe an algorithm that is based on dual fluorescent labeling of lymphocytes with separate analysis of images of cytoplasm and nuclei. To evaluate the performance of the system, blood samples of seven healthy donors were irradiated in vitro with doses from 0–10 Gy and dose-response curves of micronuclei frequencies were generated. To establish the applicability of the system to the detection of high doses, the ratios of mononucleated cells to binucleated cells were determined for three of the donors. All of the dose-response curves generated automatically showed clear dose dependence and good correlation (R2 from 0.914–0.998) with the results of manual scoring.
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Vol. 181 • No. 2