What to look for in an automated cell counter

Whenever you’re thinking about cell counting, the first image that pops up in your mind will probably be the "good old" Bürker-Türk chamber. But why not go automatic?

Where the Bürker-Türk chamber has been good decades ago, it is indeed old and shows quite some disadvantages as it is very time consuming and error-prone. I bet you rather use a technique that is fast, accurate, reproducible and automated: the automated cell counter! There are several automated cell counters on the market. But do you know what to look for in those systems?

Here are some tips to help you.

Accurate focusing

When preparing your cell suspension, it is difficult to get completely rid of dead cells or debris. Obviously, you don’t want the system to count any of those as a living cell. Your cell counter can only exclude dead cells and debris if it recognizes these particles. Therefore, accurate focusing is crucial since automated cell counters detect living cells by their black edges and white centers. Inaccurate focusing will mess up the black and white pixels, leading to misinterpretation of dead and living cells. Make sure your choice of automated cell counter is up to the task by checking its camera resolution. You can also choose a counter with autofocusing technology, to keep things really simple.


Like all type of experiments, you also want your cell counting to be reproducible. Most automated cell counters provide you with specific slides that have a defined measuring area. Sizes of the taken images are therefore always equal for each count, eliminating variation in the field of view. You can further minimize any differences between counts by using re-usable slides instead of disposable slides, hereby excluding any possible variations between slides. Another alternative is to use the recommended standard beads with known concentrations when using disposable slides.

Declustering performance

Although you do the best you can, your cell suspensions can still contain clustered cells after preparation. You want these cell groups to be counted as individual cells to get a fair cell count. Most automated cell counters contain integrated software that automatically recognizes cell clusters and count the cells in these groups as individual cells. But don’t think about it too easy; the declustering performance of the different available cell counters varies significantly!

So make a little time to get yourself a decent comparison of automated cell counters. Be sure to include our LUNA II automated cell counter in your comparison. It’s worth the search!


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