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In Scientific reports ; h5-index 158.0

The rodent estrous cycle modulates a range of biological functions, from gene expression to behavior. The cycle is typically divided into four stages, each characterized by distinct hormone concentration profiles. Given the difficulty of repeatedly sampling plasma steroid hormones from rodents, the primary method for classifying estrous stage is by identifying vaginal epithelial cell types. However, manual classification of epithelial cell samples is time-intensive and variable, even amongst expert investigators. Here, we use a deep learning approach to achieve classification accuracy at expert level. Due to the heterogeneity and breadth of our input dataset, our deep learning approach ("EstrousNet") is highly generalizable across rodent species, stains, and subjects. The EstrousNet algorithm exploits the temporal dimension of the hormonal cycle by fitting classifications to an archetypal cycle, highlighting possible misclassifications and flagging anestrus phases (e.g., pseudopregnancy). EstrousNet allows for rapid estrous cycle staging, improving the ability of investigators to consider endocrine state in their rodent studies.

Wolcott Nora S, Sit Kevin K, Raimondi Gianna, Hodges Travis, Shansky Rebecca M, Galea Liisa A M, Ostroff Linnaea E, Goard Michael J