Motivation: Identifying phenotypes based on high-content cellular images is challenging. Conventional image analysis pipelines for phenotype identification comprise multiple independent steps, with each step requiring method customization and adjustment of multiple parameters.
Results: Here, we present an approach based on a multi-scale convolutional neural network (M-CNN) that classifies, in a single cohesive step, cellular images into phenotypes by using directly and solely the images' pixel intensity values. The only parameters in the approach are the weights of the neural network, which are automatically optimized based on training images. The approach requires no a priori knowledge or manual customization, and is applicable to single- or multi-channel images displaying single or multiple cells. We evaluated the classification performance of the approach on eight diverse benchmark datasets. The approach yielded overall a higher classification accuracy compared with state-of-the-art results, including those of other deep CNN architectures. In addition to using the network to simply obtain a yes-or-no prediction for a given phenotype, we use the probability outputs calculated by the network to quantitatively describe the phenotypes. This study shows that these probability values correlate with chemical treatment concentrations. This finding validates further our approach and enables chemical treatment potency estimation via CNNs.
Availability and implementation: The network specifications and solver definitions are provided in Supplementary Software 1.
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Supplementary information: Supplementary data are available at Bioinformatics online.
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