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In PloS one ; h5-index 176.0

In this paper, we propose an automatic cell counting framework for stimulated Raman scattering (SRS) images, which can assist tumor tissue characteristic analysis, cancer diagnosis, and surgery planning processes. SRS microscopy has promoted tumor diagnosis and surgery by mapping lipids and proteins from fresh specimens and conducting a fast disclose of fundamental diagnostic hallmarks of tumors with a high resolution. However, cell counting from label-free SRS images has been challenging due to the limited contrast of cells and tissue, along with the heterogeneity of tissue morphology and biochemical compositions. To this end, a deep learning-based cell counting scheme is proposed by modifying and applying U-Net, an effective medical image semantic segmentation model that uses a small number of training samples. The distance transform and watershed segmentation algorithms are also implemented to yield the cell instance segmentation and cell counting results. By performing cell counting on SRS images of real human brain tumor specimens, promising cell counting results are obtained with > 98% of area under the curve (AUC) and R = 0.97 in terms of cell counting correlation between SRS and histological images with hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) staining. The proposed cell counting scheme illustrates the possibility and potential of performing cell counting automatically in near real time and encourages the study of applying deep learning techniques in biomedical and pathological image analyses.

Zhang Qianqian, Yun Kyung Keun, Wang Hao, Yoon Sang Won, Lu Fake, Won Daehan