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Cell Culture Observation System

Stem cell screening inside the incubator.

With conventional cell monitoring procedures, a culture vessel has to be taken out of the incubator for microscope observation, where cells are subject to stressful environmental changes and mechanical disturbance. Researchers then have to spend additional time repositioning the vessel to find previous observation points. Nikon's BioStation CT eliminates these problems by combining culture and imaging environments to enable accurate monitoring of individual cells and colonies while maintaining stable environmental conditions.  The BioStation CT is an ideal monitoring solution for cell types that require minimal handling and stable culture conditions such as stem cells.

Key Features

Automatic image capture

The autofocus mechanism allows the capture of in-focus images. Z-stack imaging in phase contrast observation, multi-sample imaging and multi-point imaging are possible with multiple magnifications. User-configured imaging conditions can be saved with BioStation CT and enable easy repeatability of observation conditions.

Automatic vessel transportation

BioStation CT incorporates a transport unit that provides stable transfer of the vessel from the storage rack to the observation area and back, all within the heated and humidified incubator. The high-precision motorized stage in the observation unit allows for automated imaging of the entire well and is compatible with a variety of well-plate formats.

Culture vessels are transferred to the observation stage and imaged in accordance with user-configured schedules.

① Storage Rack
② Observation Stage

Remote access

Configuration of the image acquisition settings, scheduling a time-lapse experiment, and accessing acquired images are all possible via a network. The captured data can be automatically downloaded to the user's local computer. This enables users to monitor the cell status away from the laboratory. When a culture environment (temperature, humidity, CO2 concentration) control error occurs, BioStation CT can notify the users of the error by e-mails.

Full-well scan imaging and highly magnified image stitching

High-resolution full-well scans are reconstructed by stitching adjacent images. This enables clear detection of an iPS colony, which is difficult to detect because of its low induction efficiency, no matter where it forms in the vessel. A specified position in the vessel can be analyzed with greater detail using high resolution, high magnification objectives. BioStation CT also offers cell registration to allow for repeated visits to the same location. These time-lapse sequences can be created even after a vessel has been removed from the BioStation CT for medium exchange and returned.

[Note] Depending on the vessel used, the BioStation CT may not be able to focus on some areas.

Micro observation

A high-sensitivity, cooled CMOS camera easily captures low fluorescence signals and phase contrast images. These images can be magnified in 2x, 4x, 10x, 20x and 40x. Up to 40 phase contrast images can be captured along the Z axis with the Z-stack function.

Macro observation

Low magnification, brightfield images of the whole culture vessel can be used to document handwritten information on the vessel, medium color and presence of contamination in the culture. In addition, alkaline phosphatase stained cell counting is possible with the optional image analysis software, CL-Quant.

Precise temperature control

Temperature control is carried out by panel heaters embedded in the incubator's six sides. This allows for highly precise temperature maintenance.

Humidity control with air-flow type active aerosol spray humidifier

Distilled water is automatically sprayed inside the incubator to keep the optimum humidity. Water can be supplied to the tank without opening the incubator door. This air-flow type humidifier reduces contamination risks compared to water bath types.

Environment data recording

The culture environment is constantly monitored and recorded. The environment data can be accessed at anytime.

Ultra-stable vessel transportation

The waver of liquid surface during the transportation is less than 2 mm, thereby minimizing the introduction of mechanical disturbance and stress to cells.

Reduced contamination risk

The incubator interior can be sterilized using hydrogen peroxide gas (optional, and a 200 V power source is necessary.)

Different GUI for each vessel type

Vessel type icons

Wells to be observed can be chosen on the touchscreen

GUI for 12-well plate

Easy operations

1. Vessel installation

Culture vessel installation into the storage rack

Vessels are placed in the incubator through a small door on the front glass panel, minimizing the effect on the environment within the incubator.

2. Setting Imaging parameters

Easy touchscreen operation

Time-lapse imaging configurations such as magnification, imaging position, fluorescence channel selection and stage motion speed can be set.

3. Scheduling

Time-lapse imaging schedule

The imaging interval and total period can be set. The shortest time-lapse imaging interval is one minute.

4. Viewing captured images

Culture history data management

The time-course change of a specimen can be observed easily in sequentially displayed captured images.

5. Medium exchange

High-precision repeatability

Accurate tracing of the same cells, even after medium exchange, is possible using a dedicated tray holder. The BioStation CT records culture history, such as medium exchange and subculture, as well as X-Y positions for each vessel.

6. Data report

Reliable data management and documentation support

Acquired data is duplicated and protected using uninterruptible power supply. Observation information such as temperature, humidity and imaging date can be annotated and displayed on the captured image to aid data sharing and presentation.