Artificial intelligence is getting a foothold in medicine for disease screening and diagnosis. While typical machine learning methods require large labeled datasets for training and validation, their application is limited in clinical fields since ground truth information can hardly be obtained on a sizeable cohort of patients. Unsupervised neural networks – such as Self-Organizing Maps (SOMs) – represent an alternative approach to identifying hidden patterns in biomedical data. Here we investigate the feasibility of SOMs for the identification of malignant and non-malignant regions in liquid biopsies of thyroid nodules, on a patient-specific basis. MALDI-ToF (Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization - Time of Flight) mass spectrometry-imaging (MSI) was used to measure the spectral profile of bioptic samples. SOMs were then applied for the analysis of MALDI-MSI data of individual patients’ samples, also testing various pre-processing and agglomerative clustering methods to investigate their impact on SOMs’ discrimination efficacy. The final clustering was compared against the sample’s probability to be malignant, hyperplastic or related to Hashimoto thyroiditis as quantified by multinomial regression with LASSO. Our results show that SOMs are effective in separating the areas of a sample containing benign cells from those containing malignant cells. Moreover, they allow to overlap the different areas of cytological glass slides with the corresponding proteomic profile image, and inspect the specific weight of every cellular component in bioptic samples. We envision that this approach could represent an effective means to assist pathologists in diagnostic tasks, avoiding the need to manually annotate cytological images and the effort in creating labeled datasets.

Unsupervised neural networks as a support tool for pathology diagnosis in MALDI-MSI experiments: A case study on thyroid biopsies

Isabella Piga;
2023-01-01

Abstract

Artificial intelligence is getting a foothold in medicine for disease screening and diagnosis. While typical machine learning methods require large labeled datasets for training and validation, their application is limited in clinical fields since ground truth information can hardly be obtained on a sizeable cohort of patients. Unsupervised neural networks – such as Self-Organizing Maps (SOMs) – represent an alternative approach to identifying hidden patterns in biomedical data. Here we investigate the feasibility of SOMs for the identification of malignant and non-malignant regions in liquid biopsies of thyroid nodules, on a patient-specific basis. MALDI-ToF (Matrix Assisted Laser Desorption Ionization - Time of Flight) mass spectrometry-imaging (MSI) was used to measure the spectral profile of bioptic samples. SOMs were then applied for the analysis of MALDI-MSI data of individual patients’ samples, also testing various pre-processing and agglomerative clustering methods to investigate their impact on SOMs’ discrimination efficacy. The final clustering was compared against the sample’s probability to be malignant, hyperplastic or related to Hashimoto thyroiditis as quantified by multinomial regression with LASSO. Our results show that SOMs are effective in separating the areas of a sample containing benign cells from those containing malignant cells. Moreover, they allow to overlap the different areas of cytological glass slides with the corresponding proteomic profile image, and inspect the specific weight of every cellular component in bioptic samples. We envision that this approach could represent an effective means to assist pathologists in diagnostic tasks, avoiding the need to manually annotate cytological images and the effort in creating labeled datasets.
2023
Self-Organizing Maps; Unsupervised learning; MALDI-MSI; Mass spectrometry; Thyroid carcinoma; Precision medicine
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Utilizza questo identificativo per citare o creare un link a questo documento: https://hdl.handle.net/11584/388351
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