Mechanistic disease progression studies using animal models require objective and quantifiable assessment of tissue pathology. Currently quantification relies heavily on staining methods which can be expensive, labor/time-intensive, inconsistent across laboratories and batch, and produce uneven staining that is prone to misinterpretation and investigator bias. We developed an automated semantic segmentation tool utilizing deep learning for rapid and objective quantification of histologic features relying solely on hematoxylin and eosin stained pancreatic tissue sections. The tool segments normal acinar structures, the ductal phenotype of acinar-to-ductal metaplasia (ADM), and dysplasia with Dice coefficients of 0.79, 0.70, and 0.79, respectively. To deal with inaccurate pixelwise manual annotations, prediction accuracy was also evaluated against biological truth using immunostaining mean structural similarity indexes (SSIM) of 0.925 and 0.920 for amylase and pan-keratin respectively. Our tool’s disease area quantifications were correlated to the quantifications of immunostaining markers (DAPI, amylase, and cytokeratins; Spearman correlation score = 0.86, 0.97, and 0.92) in unseen dataset (n = 25). Moreover, our tool distinguishes ADM from dysplasia, which are not reliably distinguished with immunostaining, and demonstrates generalizability across murine cohorts with pancreatic disease. We quantified the changes in histologic feature abundance for murine cohorts with oncogenic Kras-driven disease, and the predictions fit biological expectations, showing stromal expansion, a reduction of normal acinar tissue, and an increase in both ADM and dysplasia as disease progresses. Our tool promises to accelerate and improve the quantification of pancreatic disease in animal studies and become a unifying quantification tool across laboratories.
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