MIXTURE of human expertise and deep learning-developing an explainable model for predicting pathological diagnosis and survival in patients with interstitial lung disease

Mod Pathol. 2022 Aug;35(8):1083-1091. doi: 10.1038/s41379-022-01025-7. Epub 2022 Feb 23.


Interstitial pneumonia is a heterogeneous disease with a progressive course and poor prognosis, at times even worse than those in the main cancer types. Histopathological examination is crucial for its diagnosis and estimation of prognosis. However, the evaluation strongly depends on the experience of pathologists, and the reproducibility of diagnosis is low. Herein, we propose MIXTURE (huMan-In-the-loop eXplainable artificial intelligence Through the Use of REcurrent training), an original method to develop deep learning models for extracting pathologically significant findings based on an expert pathologist's perspective with a small annotation effort. The procedure of MIXTURE consists of three steps as follows. First, we created feature extractors for tiles from whole slide images using self-supervised learning. The similar looking tiles were clustered based on the output features and then pathologists integrated the pathologically synonymous clusters. Using the integrated clusters as labeled data, deep learning models to classify the tiles into pathological findings were created by transfer-learning the feature extractors. We developed three models for different magnifications. Using these extracted findings, our model was able to predict the diagnosis of usual interstitial pneumonia, a finding suggestive of progressive disease, with high accuracy (AUC 0.90 in validation set and AUC 0.86 in test set). This high accuracy could not be achieved without the integration of findings by pathologists. The patients predicted as UIP had poorer prognosis (5-year overall survival [OS]: 55.4%) than those predicted as non-UIP (OS: 95.2%). The Cox proportional hazards model for each microscopic finding and prognosis pointed out dense fibrosis, fibroblastic foci, elastosis, and lymphocyte aggregation as independent risk factors. We suggest that MIXTURE may serve as a model approach to different diseases evaluated by medical imaging, including pathology and radiology, and be the prototype for explainable artificial intelligence that can collaborate with humans.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Artificial Intelligence
  • Deep Learning*
  • Humans
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis* / diagnosis
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis* / pathology
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial* / diagnosis
  • Lung Diseases, Interstitial* / pathology
  • Reproducibility of Results