Deep learning detects acute myeloid leukemia and predicts NPM1 mutation status from bone marrow smears

Leukemia. 2022 Jan;36(1):111-118. doi: 10.1038/s41375-021-01408-w. Epub 2021 Sep 8.


The evaluation of bone marrow morphology by experienced hematopathologists is essential in the diagnosis of acute myeloid leukemia (AML); however, it suffers from a lack of standardization and inter-observer variability. Deep learning (DL) can process medical image data and provides data-driven class predictions. Here, we apply a multi-step DL approach to automatically segment cells from bone marrow images, distinguish between AML samples and healthy controls with an area under the receiver operating characteristic (AUROC) of 0.9699, and predict the mutation status of Nucleophosmin 1 (NPM1)-one of the most common mutations in AML-with an AUROC of 0.92 using only image data from bone marrow smears. Utilizing occlusion sensitivity maps, we observed so far unreported morphologic cell features such as a pattern of condensed chromatin and perinuclear lightening zones in myeloblasts of NPM1-mutated AML and prominent nucleoli in wild-type NPM1 AML enabling the DL model to provide accurate class predictions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics*
  • Bone Marrow / metabolism
  • Bone Marrow / pathology*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Deep Learning*
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / genetics
  • Leukemia, Myeloid, Acute / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation*
  • Nucleophosmin / genetics*
  • Prognosis
  • Retrospective Studies


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • NPM1 protein, human
  • Nucleophosmin