A fully automated image analysis method to quantify lung fibrosis in the bleomycin- induced rat model

By 4 November 2020November 6th, 2020IPF

Intratracheal administration of bleomycin induces fibrosis in the lung, which is mainly assessed by histopathological grading that is subjective. Current literature highlights the need of reproducible and quantitative pulmonary fibrosis analysis. If some quantitative studies looked at fibrosis parameters separately, none of them quantitatively assessed both aspects: lung tissue remodeling and collagenization. To ensure reliable quantifica- tion, support vector machine learning was used on digitalized images to design a fully automated method that analyzes two important aspects of lung fibrosis: (i) areas having substantial tissue remodeling with appearance of dense fibrotic masses and (ii) collagen deposition. Fibrotic masses were identified on low magnification images and collagen detection was performed at high magnification. To insure a fully automated application the tissue classifier was trained on several independent studies that were performed over a period of four years. The detection method generates two different values that can be used to quantify lung fibrosis development: (i) percent area of fibrotic masses and (ii) percent of alveolar collagen. These two parameters were validated using independent studies from bleomycin- and saline-treated animals. A significant change of these lung fibrosis quantification parameters- increased amount of fibrotic masses and increased collagen deposition- were observed upon intratracheal administration of bleomycin and subsequent significant beneficial treatments effects were observed with BIBF-1120 and pirfenidone.