Epithelium-Stroma Classification via Convolutional Neural Networks and Unsupervised Domain Adaptation in Histopathological Images

IEEE J Biomed Health Inform. 2017 Nov;21(6):1625-1632. doi: 10.1109/JBHI.2017.2691738. Epub 2017 Apr 6.


Epithelium-stroma classification is a necessary preprocessing step in histopathological image analysis. Current deep learning based recognition methods for histology data require collection of large volumes of labeled data in order to train a new neural network when there are changes to the image acquisition procedure. However, it is extremely expensive for pathologists to manually label sufficient volumes of data for each pathology study in a professional manner, which results in limitations in real-world applications. A very simple but effective deep learning method, that introduces the concept of unsupervised domain adaptation to a simple convolutional neural network (CNN), has been proposed in this paper. Inspired by transfer learning, our paper assumes that the training data and testing data follow different distributions, and there is an adaptation operation to more accurately estimate the kernels in CNN in feature extraction, in order to enhance performance by transferring knowledge from labeled data in source domain to unlabeled data in target domain. The model has been evaluated using three independent public epithelium-stroma datasets by cross-dataset validations. The experimental results demonstrate that for epithelium-stroma classification, the proposed framework outperforms the state-of-the-art deep neural network model, and it also achieves better performance than other existing deep domain adaptation methods. The proposed model can be considered to be a better option for real-world applications in histopathological image analysis, since there is no longer a requirement for large-scale labeled data in each specified domain.

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnostic imaging
  • Breast Neoplasms / pathology
  • Connective Tissue / diagnostic imaging
  • Epithelium / diagnostic imaging*
  • Female
  • Histocytochemistry / methods*
  • Humans
  • Image Processing, Computer-Assisted / methods*
  • Machine Learning*
  • Neural Networks, Computer*