Deep-Learning–Driven Quantification of Interstitial Fibrosis in Digitized Kidney Biopsies

Yi Zheng, Clarissa A. Cassol, Saemi Jung, Divya Veerapaneni, Vipul C. Chitalia, Kevin Y.M. Ren, Shubha S. Bellur, Peter Boor, Laura M. Barisoni, Sushrut S. Waikar, Margrit Betke, Vijaya B. Kolachalama

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Interstitial fibrosis and tubular atrophy (IFTA) on a renal biopsy are strong indicators of disease chronicity and prognosis. Techniques that are typically used for IFTA grading remain manual, leading to variability among pathologists. Accurate IFTA estimation using computational techniques can reduce this variability and provide quantitative assessment. Using trichrome-stained whole-slide images (WSIs) processed from human renal biopsies, we developed a deep-learning framework that captured finer pathologic structures at high resolution and overall context at the WSI level to predict IFTA grade. WSIs (n = 67) were obtained from The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center. Five nephropathologists independently reviewed them and provided fibrosis scores that were converted to IFTA grades: ≤10% (none or minimal), 11% to 25% (mild), 26% to 50% (moderate), and >50% (severe). The model was developed by associating the WSIs with the IFTA grade determined by majority voting (reference estimate). Model performance was evaluated on WSIs (n = 28) obtained from the Kidney Precision Medicine Project. There was good agreement on the IFTA grading between the pathologists and the reference estimate (κ = 0.622 ± 0.071). The accuracy of the deep-learning model was 71.8% ± 5.3% on The Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center and 65.0% ± 4.2% on Kidney Precision Medicine Project data sets. Our approach to analyzing microscopic- and WSI-level changes in renal biopsies attempts to mimic the pathologist and provides a regional and contextual estimation of IFTA. Such methods can assist clinicopathologic diagnosis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1442-1453
Number of pages12
JournalAmerican Journal of Pathology
Issue number8
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine


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