Accurately counting the number of cells in microscopy images is required in many medical diagnosis and biological studies. This task is tedious, time-consuming, and prone to subjective errors. However, designing automatic counting methods remains challenging due to low image contrast, complex background, large variance in cell shapes and counts, and significant cell occlusions in two-dimensional microscopy images. In this study, we proposed a new density regression-based method for automatically counting cells in microscopy images. The proposed method processes two innovations compared to other state-of-the-art density regression-based methods. First, the density regression model (DRM) is designed as a concatenated fully convolutional regression network (C-FCRN) to employ multi-scale image features for the estimation of cell density maps from given images. Second, auxiliary convolutional neural networks (AuxCNNs) are employed to assist in the training of intermediate layers of the designed C-FCRN to improve the DRM performance on unseen datasets. Experimental studies evaluated on four datasets demonstrate the superior performance of the proposed method.
- Automatic cell counting
- Deeply-supervised learning
- Fully convolutional neural network
- Microscopy images