Time-lapse microscopy is a technique for the visualization of dynamic processes in living cells, tissues or even whole organisms. A time-lapse microscope or video microscope consists of an optical system to display cells at a microscopic level. Another important component is the climatic chamber for controlling the experimental conditions. It maintains temperature, gas composition and humidity of the atmosphere in which cell growth and intracellular processes of the biological probe are running at an optimum.
For analysis of dynamic processes in cells the probes are observed by the videomicroscope for an extended time e.g. for several hours, days or even weeks.The cells are automatically and repeatedly recorded to receive many single images. After that a movie is assembled consisting of the single images. This so-called time-lapse imaging makes dynamic processes visible which are hardly to detect in real time. The application of these microscopes usually requires a degree in medicine or biology as well as an extensively equipped research laboratory.
Processes such as migration (cell movement), morphogenesis (change of cellular morphology), proloferation (cell division) and even the communication between cells can be tracked and investigated further.
Microscopes commonly applied for time-lapse imaging are equipped with additional components, such as an automated stage, interchangeable objectives, a filter changer and sensitive cameras which allow the use of flourescence or luminescence reporters. These devices provide a vast range of biological questions in addition to the applications mentioned above.
Video: HEK-293, 5%CO2/37°C/48 h