Statistical texture analysis of cancer cell nuclei stained for DNA has recently been used to develop a pan-cancer prognostic marker of chromatin heterogeneity. In this study, we instead analysed chromatin organisation by automatically quantifying the diversity of chromatin compartments in cancer cell nuclei. The aim was to investigate the prognostic value of such an assessment in relation to chromatin heterogeneity and as a potential supplement to pathological risk classifications in gynaecological carcinomas. The diversity was quantified by calculating the entropy of both chromatin compartment sizes and optical densities within compartments. We analysed a median of 281 nuclei (interquartile range (IQR), 273 to 289) from 246 ovarian carcinoma patients and a median of 997 nuclei (IQR, 502 to 1452) from 791 endometrial carcinoma patients. The prognostic value of the entropies and chromatin heterogeneity was moderately strongly correlated (r ranged from 0.68 to 0.73), but the novel marker was observed to provide additional prognostic information. In multivariable analysis with clinical and pathological markers, the hazard ratio associated with the novel marker was 2.1 (95% CI, 1.3 to 3.5) in ovarian carcinoma and 2.4 (95% CI, 1.5 to 3.9) in endometrial carcinoma. Integration with pathological risk classifications gave three risk groups with distinctly different prognoses. This suggests that the novel marker of diversity of chromatin compartments might possibly contribute to the selection of high-risk stage I ovarian carcinoma patients for adjuvant chemotherapy and low-risk endometrial carcinoma patients for less extensive surgery.
Keywords: chromatin compartments; chromatin organisation; endometrial cancer; ovarian cancer; prognostic marker; texture analysis.