Diffusion Mapping of Eosinophil-Activation State

Justyna Piasecka, Catherine A. Thornton, Paul Rees, Huw D. Summers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

5 Scopus citations


Eosinophils are granular leukocytes that play a role in mediating inflammatory responses linked to infection and allergic disease. Their activation during an immune response triggers spatial reorganization and eventual cargo release from intracellular granules. Understanding this process is important in diagnosing eosinophilic disorders and in assessing treatment efficacy; however, current protocols are limited to simply quantifying the number of eosinophils within a blood sample. Given that high optical absorption and scattering by the granular structure of these cells lead to marked image features, the physical changes that occur during activation should be trackable using image analysis. Here, we present a study in which imaging flow cytometry is used to quantify eosinophil activation state, based on the extraction of 85 distinct spatial features from dark-field images formed by light scattered orthogonally to the illuminating beam. We apply diffusion mapping, a time inference method that orders cells on a trajectory based on similar image features. Analysis of exogenous cell activation using eotaxin and endogenous activation in donor samples with elevated eosinophil counts shows that cell position along the diffusion-path line correlates with activation level (99% confidence level). Thus, the diffusion mapping provides an activation metric for each cell. Assessment of activated and control populations using both this spatial image-based, activation score and the integrated side-scatter intensity shows an improved Fisher discriminant ratio r d = 0.7 for the multivariate technique compared with an r d = 0.47 for the traditional whole-cell scatter metric. © 2019 The Authors. Cytometry Part A published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of International Society for Advancement of Cytometry.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)253-258
Number of pages6
JournalCytometry Part A
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2020


  • diffusion maps
  • eosinophil
  • imaging flow cytometry
  • multivariate analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Histology
  • Cell Biology


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