Breast cancer histopathology image-based gene expression prediction using spatial transcriptomics data and deep learning

Sci Rep. 2023 Aug 21;13(1):13604. doi: 10.1038/s41598-023-40219-0.


Tumour heterogeneity in breast cancer poses challenges in predicting outcome and response to therapy. Spatial transcriptomics technologies may address these challenges, as they provide a wealth of information about gene expression at the cell level, but they are expensive, hindering their use in large-scale clinical oncology studies. Predicting gene expression from hematoxylin and eosin stained histology images provides a more affordable alternative for such studies. Here we present BrST-Net, a deep learning framework for predicting gene expression from histopathology images using spatial transcriptomics data. Using this framework, we trained and evaluated four distinct state-of-the-art deep learning architectures, which include ResNet101, Inception-v3, EfficientNet (with six different variants), and vision transformer (with two different variants), all without utilizing pretrained weights for the prediction of 250 genes. To enhance the generalisation performance of the main network, we introduce an auxiliary network into the framework. Our methodology outperforms previous studies, with 237 genes identified with positive correlation, including 24 genes with a median correlation coefficient greater than 0.50. This is a notable improvement over previous studies, which could predict only 102 genes with positive correlation, with the highest correlation values ranging from 0.29 to 0.34.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Deep Learning*
  • Electric Power Supplies
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Mammary Neoplasms, Animal*
  • Transcriptome