SATINN: an automated neural network-based classification of testicular sections allows for high-throughput histopathology of mouse mutants

Ran Yang, Alexandra M. Stendahl, Katinka A. Vigh-Conrad, Madison Held, Ana C. Lima, Donald F. Conrad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


MOTIVATION: The mammalian testis is a complex organ with a cellular composition that changes smoothly and cyclically in normal adults. While testis histology is already an invaluable tool for identifying and describing developmental differences in evolution and disease, methods for standardized, digital image analysis of testis are needed to expand the utility of this approach. RESULTS: We developed SATINN (Software for Analysis of Testis Images with Neural Networks), a multi-level framework for automated analysis of multiplexed immunofluorescence images from mouse testis. This approach uses residual learning to train convolutional neural networks (CNNs) to classify nuclei from seminiferous tubules into seven distinct cell types with an accuracy of 81.7%. These cell classifications are then used in a second-level tubule CNN, which places seminiferous tubules into one of 12 distinct tubule stages with 57.3% direct accuracy and 94.9% within ±1 stage. We further describe numerous cell- and tubule-level statistics that can be derived from wild-type testis. Finally, we demonstrate how the classifiers and derived statistics can be used to rapidly and precisely describe pathology by applying our methods to image data from two mutant mouse lines. Our results demonstrate the feasibility and potential of using computer-assisted analysis for testis histology, an area poised to evolve rapidly on the back of emerging, spatially resolved genomic and proteomic technologies. AVAILABILITY AND IMPLEMENTATION: The source code to reproduce the results described here and a SATINN standalone application with graphic-user interface are available from SUPPLEMENTARY INFORMATION: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)5288-5298
Number of pages11
JournalBioinformatics (Oxford, England)
Issue number23
StatePublished - Nov 30 2022

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Statistics and Probability
  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Biology
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Computational Theory and Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics


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