INsPECT, an Open-Source and Versatile Software for Automated Quantification of (Leishmania) Intracellular Parasites

The major health problems of developing countries constitute infectious diseases caused by intracellular parasites. Leishmania, Toxoplasma and Trypanosoma parasites are smart enough to reside inside the host cells.

Researchers working on the aspect of how such parasites proliferate intracellularly, have to do some laborious parasite counting, analyze drug [natural/synthetic] susceptibility or compare virulence properties of modified strains? High Content Screening (HCS) Technology has emerged recently and is a powerful tool for screening new compounds or for testing susceptibility of parasites to drugs. However the laborious procedure and cost of the equipments makes HCS poorly accessible for academics and research.

In this paper novel open-source, Java based software has been introduced that is quite helpful in automating the measurement of infection levels. This method is based on fluorescent DNA staining and has been named as INsPECT (Intracellular ParasitE CounTer). This software is believed to be versatile enough by the authors; to precisely detect intracellular parasites and to be the best one for parasite quantification.

The image based INsPECT is more fast, user friendly and open-source based software for quantification of parasites. The fluorescent images taken are used by the software to calculate the required data automatically by using image processing framework. The software can run based on DNA fluorescent images alone or in combination with phase contrast/Differential Interference Contrast. Such combination makes the intra- and extracellular parasites to be discriminated without any use of fluorescent membrane marker.

The out-put of the software provides one with annotated images, a report table, total cell count, total infected cell count, parasite index etc. The processing pipeline used by INsPECT software can be seen in the image below:

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Citation:

INsPECT, an Open-Source and Versatile Software for Automated Quantification of (Leishmania) Intracellular Parasites. Ehsan Yazdanparast, Antonio Dos Anjos, Deborah Garcia, Corinne Loeuillet,  Hamid Reza Shahbazkia mail, Baptiste Vergnes mail. Published: May 15, 2014 DOI: 10.1371/journal.pntd.0002850