Many physiological and pathological processes, such as inflammation, tissue repair, angiogenesis, tumor growth and invasion, are strongly linked to the dynamic evolution of cell populations, that can be described as active biological soft matter. The current understanding of many mechanisms is still limited and cell dynamic behavior remains a challenging process to study under physiopathologically-relevant conditions in vitro. A detailed analysis of these processes requires a rigorous approach to quantitatively analyze cell dynamics and measure cell movement and proliferation indices, considering the interaction with the surrounding environment.
Morphologic evolution of living cellular systems can be quantitatively investigated by direct visualization of cell migration assays by live cell imaging using in-vitro Time Lapse microscopy, and image analysis. Different assays can be used to gain quantitative information about the dynamic evolution of individual cells, and cell populations, such as cell monolayers or clusters in 2D and 3D. The influence of external anisotropies in the surrounding environment, such as the presence of concentration gradients and mass flows, typically present in vivo, can be reproduced in vitro by using bio-mimetic scaffolds and diffusion chambers. The dynamic evolution of the cell systems can be interpreted according to mathematical models, based on a transport phenomena approach.