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In Toxicologic pathology

Digital pathology evolved rapidly, enabling more systematic usage of image analysis and development of artificial intelligence (AI) applications. Here, combined AI models were developed to evaluate hepatocellular hypertrophy in rat liver, using commercial AI-based software on hematoxylin and eosin-stained whole slide images. In a first approach, deep learning-based identification of critical tissue zones (centrilobular, midzonal, and periportal) enabled evaluation of region-specific cell size. Mean cytoplasmic area of hepatocytes was calculated via several sequential algorithms including segmentation in microanatomical structures (separation of sinusoids and vessels from hepatocytes), nuclear detection, and area measurements. An increase in mean cytoplasmic area could be shown in groups given phenobarbital, known to induce hepatocellular hypertrophy when compared to control groups, in multiple studies. Quantitative results correlated with the gold standard: observation and grading performed by board-certified veterinary pathologists, liver weights, and gene expression. Furthermore, as a second approach, we introduce for the first time deep learning-based direct detection of hepatocellular hypertrophy with similar results. Cell hypertrophy is challenging to pick up, particularly in milder cases. Additional evaluation of mean cytoplasmic area or direct detection of hypertrophy, combined with histopathological observations and liver weights, is expected to increase accuracy and repeatability of diagnoses and grading by pathologists.

Pischon Hannah, Mason David, Lawrenz Bettina, Blanck Olivier, Frisk Anna-Lena, Schorsch Frederic, Bertani Valeria


deep learning, digital pathology, gene expression, histopathology, hypertrophy, image analysis, molecular pathology