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Persistent Homology Index as a Robust Quantitative Measure of Immunohistochemical Scoring
Akihiro Takiyama, Takashi Teramoto, Hiroaki Suzuki, Katsushige Yamashiro, Shinya Tanaka
Immunohistochemical data (IHC) plays an important role in clinical practice, and is typically gathered in a semi-quantitative fashion that relies on some degree of visual scoring. However, visual scoring by a pathologist is inherently subjective and manifests both intra-observer and inter-observer variability. In this study, we introduce a novel computer-aided quantification methodology for immunohistochemical scoring that uses the algebraic concept of persistent homology. Using 8 bit grayscale image data derived from 90 specimens of invasive ductal carcinoma of the breast, stained for the replicative marker Ki-67, we computed homology classes. These were then compared to nuclear grades and the Ki-67 labeling indices obtained by visual scoring. Three metrics for IHC staining were newly defined: Persistent Homology Index (PHI), center coordinates of positive and negative groups, and the sum of squares within groups (WSS). This study demonstrates that PHI, a novel index for immunohistochemical labeling using persistent homology, can produce highly similar data to that generated by a pathologist using visual evaluation. The potential benefits associated with our novel technology include both improved quantification and reproducibility. Since our method reflects cellularity and nuclear atypia, it carries a greater quantity of biologic data compared to conventional evaluation using Ki-67.