Pathologic review of tumor morphology in histologic sections is the traditional method for cancer classification and grading, yet human review has limitations that can result in low reproducibility and inter-observer agreement. Computerized image analysis can partially overcome these shortcomings due to its capacity to quantitatively and reproducibly measure histologic structures on a large-scale. In this paper, we present an end-to-end image analysis and data integration pipeline for large-scale morphologic analysis of pathology images and demonstrate the ability to correlate phenotypic groups with molecular data and clinical outcomes. We demonstrate our method in the context of glioblastoma (GBM), with specific focus on the degree of the oligodendroglioma component. Over 200 million nuclei in digitized pathology slides from 117 GBMs in the Cancer Genome Atlas were quantitatively analyzed, followed by multiplatform correlation of nuclear features with molecular and clinical data. For each nucleus, a Nuclear Score (NS) was calculated based on the degree of oligodendroglioma appearance, using a regression model trained from the optimal feature set. Using the frequencies of neoplastic nuclei in low and high NS intervals, we were able to cluster patients into three well-separated disease groups that contained low, medium, or high Oligodendroglioma Component (OC). We showed that machine-based classification of GBMs with high oligodendroglioma component uncovered a set of tumors with strong associations with PDGFRA amplification, proneural transcriptional class, and expression of the oligodendrocyte signature genes MBP, HOXD1, PLP1, MOBP and PDGFRA. Quantitative morphologic features within the GBMs that correlated most strongly with oligodendrocyte gene expression were high nuclear circularity and low eccentricity. These findings highlight the potential of high throughput morphologic analysis to complement and inform human-based pathologic review.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)