J Yoon, Y Jo, M-H Kim, K Kim, S Lee, S-J Kang, Y Park
Identification of lymphocyte cell types are crucial for understanding their pathophysiological roles in human diseases. Current methods for discriminating lymphocyte cell types primarily rely on labelling techniques with magnetic beads or fluorescence agents, which take time and have costs for sample preparation and may also have a potential risk of altering cellular functions. Here, we present the identification of non-activated lymphocyte cell types at the single-cell level using refractive index (RI) tomography and machine learning. From the measurements of three-dimensional RI maps of individual lymphocytes, the morphological and biochemical properties of the cells are quantitatively retrieved. To construct cell type classification models, various statistical classification algorithms are compared, and the k-NN (k = 4) algorithm was selected. The algorithm combines multiple quantitative characteristics of the lymphocyte to construct the cell type classifiers. After optimizing the feature sets via cross-validation, the trained classifiers enable identification of three lymphocyte cell types (B, CD4+ T, and CD8+ T cells) with high sensitivity and specificity. The present method, which combines RI tomography and machine learning for the first time to our knowledge, could be a versatile tool for investigating the pathophysiological roles of lymphocytes in various diseases including cancers, autoimmune diseases, and virus infections.