An adaptive non-local means filter for denoising live-cell images and improving particle detection.
Yang L., Parton R., Ball G., Qiu Z., Greenaway AH., Davis I., Lu W.
Fluorescence imaging of dynamical processes in live cells often results in a low signal-to-noise ratio. We present a novel feature-preserving non-local means approach to denoise such images to improve feature recovery and particle detection. The commonly used non-local means filter is not optimal for noisy biological images containing small features of interest because image noise prevents accurate determination of the correct coefficients for averaging, leading to over-smoothing and other artifacts. Our adaptive method addresses this problem by constructing a particle feature probability image, which is based on Haar-like feature extraction. The particle probability image is then used to improve the estimation of the correct coefficients for averaging. We show that this filter achieves higher peak signal-to-noise ratio in denoised images and has a greater capability in identifying weak particles when applied to synthetic data. We have applied this approach to live-cell images resulting in enhanced detection of end-binding-protein 1 foci on dynamically extending microtubules in photo-sensitive Drosophila tissues. We show that our feature-preserving non-local means filter can reduce the threshold of imaging conditions required to obtain meaningful data.