Computational Pipeline for Glomerular Segmentation and Association of the Quantified Regions with Prognosis of Kidney Function in IgA Nephropathy

Diagnostics (Basel). 2022 Nov 25;12(12):2955. doi: 10.3390/diagnostics12122955.


The histopathological findings of the glomeruli from whole slide images (WSIs) of a renal biopsy play an important role in diagnosing and grading kidney disease. This study aimed to develop an automated computational pipeline to detect glomeruli and to segment the histopathological regions inside of the glomerulus in a WSI. In order to assess the significance of this pipeline, we conducted a multivariate regression analysis to determine whether the quantified regions were associated with the prognosis of kidney function in 46 cases of immunoglobulin A nephropathy (IgAN). The developed pipelines showed a mean intersection over union (IoU) of 0.670 and 0.693 for five classes (i.e., background, Bowman's space, glomerular tuft, crescentic, and sclerotic regions) against the WSI of its facility, and 0.678 and 0.609 against the WSI of the external facility. The multivariate analysis revealed that the predicted sclerotic regions, even those that were predicted by the external model, had a significant negative impact on the slope of the estimated glomerular filtration rate after biopsy. This is the first study to demonstrate that the quantified sclerotic regions that are predicted by an automated computational pipeline for the segmentation of the histopathological glomerular components on WSIs impact the prognosis of kidney function in patients with IgAN.

Keywords: IgA nephropathy; computer vision; deep learning; digital pathology; glomerular sclerosis; kidney disease; object detection; renal prognosis; segmentation; whole slide imaging (WSI).