Computational Immunohistochemistry: Recipes for Standardization of Immunostaining
Cancer diagnosis and personalized cancer treatment are heavily based on the visual assessment of immunohistochemically-stained tissue specimens. The precision of this assessment depends critically on the quality of immunostaining, which is governed by a number of parameters used in the staining process. Tuning of the staining-process parameters is mostly based on pathologists’ qualitative assessment, which incurs inter- and intra-observer variability. The lack of standardization in staining across pathology labs leads to poor reproducibility and consequently to uncertainty in diagnosis and treatment selection. In this paper, we propose a methodology to address this issue through a quantitative evaluation of the staining quality by using visual computing and machine learning techniques on immunohistochemically-stained tissue images. This enables a statistical analysis of the sensitivity of the staining quality to the process parameters and thereby provides an optimal operating range for obtaining high-quality immunostains. We evaluate the proposed methodology on HER2-stained breast cancer tissues and demonstrate its use to define guidelines to optimize and standardize immunostaining.