Self-supervised Learning for Segmentation and Quantification of Dopamine Neurons in Parkinson’s Disease

Published: 14 Oct 2023, Last Modified: 14 Oct 2023Accepted by TMLREveryoneRevisionsBibTeX
Abstract: Parkinson’s Disease (PD) is the second most common neurodegenerative disease in humans. PD is characterized by the gradual loss of dopaminergic neurons in the Substantia Nigra (SN, a part of the mid-brain). Counting the number of dopaminergic neurons in the SN is one of the most important indexes in evaluating drug efficacy in PD animal models. Currently, analyzing and quantifying dopaminergic neurons is conducted manually by experts through analysis of digital pathology images which is laborious, time-consuming, and highly subjective. As such, a reliable and unbiased automated system is demanded for the quantification of dopaminergic neurons in digital pathology images. Recent years have seen a surge in adopting deep learning solutions in medical image processing. However, developing high-performing deep learning models hinges on the availability of large-scale, high-quality annotated data, which can be expensive to acquire, especially in applications like digital pathology image analysis. To this end, we propose an end-to-end deep learning framework based on self-supervised learning for the segmentation and quantification of dopaminergic neurons in PD animal models. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first deep learning model that detects the cell body of dopaminergic neurons, counts the number of dopaminergic neurons, and provides characteristics of individual dopaminergic neurons as a numerical output. Extensive experiments demonstrate the effectiveness of our model in quantifying neurons with high precision, which can provide a faster turnaround for drug efficacy studies,better understanding of dopaminergic neuronal health status, and unbiased results in PD pre-clinical research. As part of our contributions, we also provide the first publicly available dataset of histology digital images along with expert annotations for the segmentation of TH-positive DA neuronal soma.
Submission Length: Regular submission (no more than 12 pages of main content)
Changes Since Last Submission: * Local edits throughout the paper to improve the clarity and readability of the manuscript * Improving the quality of figures for better visualizations
Assigned Action Editor: ~Bertrand_Thirion1
License: Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0)
Submission Number: 1094