hist2RNA: An efficient deep learning architecture to predict gene expression from breast cancer histopathology images

by   Raktim Kumar Mondol, et al.

Gene expression can be used to subtype breast cancer with improved prediction of risk of recurrence and treatment responsiveness over that obtained using routine immunohistochemistry (IHC). However, in the clinic, molecular profiling is primarily used for ER+ cancer and is costly and tissue destructive, requires specialized platforms and takes several weeks to obtain a result. Deep learning algorithms can effectively extract morphological patterns in digital histopathology images to predict molecular phenotypes quickly and cost-effectively. We propose a new, computationally efficient approach called hist2RNA inspired by bulk RNA-sequencing techniques to predict the expression of 138 genes (incorporated from six commercially available molecular profiling tests), including luminal PAM50 subtype, from hematoxylin and eosin (H E) stained whole slide images (WSIs). The training phase involves the aggregation of extracted features for each patient from a pretrained model to predict gene expression at the patient level using annotated H E images from The Cancer Genome Atlas (TCGA, n=335). We demonstrate successful gene prediction on a held-out test set (n=160, corr=0.82 across patients, corr=0.29 across genes) and perform exploratory analysis on an external tissue microarray (TMA) dataset (n=498) with known IHC and survival information. Our model is able to predict gene expression and luminal PAM50 subtype (Luminal A versus Luminal B) on the TMA dataset with prognostic significance for overall survival in univariate analysis (c-index=0.56, hazard ratio=2.16, p<0.005), and independent significance in multivariate analysis incorporating standard clinicopathological variables (c-index=0.65, hazard ratio=1.85, p<0.005).


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