Keywords: Image synthesis, Tiling Effect, Inference
TL;DR: We present an unpaired synthesis model (MxIF to virtual H&E) that fully utilizes 27 MxIF channels and spatial constraints. A sliding window random shifting strategy is introduced during the optimized inference stage to alleviate the tiling effects.
Abstract: Multiplex immunofluorescence (MxIF) is an advanced molecular imaging technique that can simultaneously provide biologists with multiple (i.e., more than 20) molecular markers on a single histological tissue section. Unfortunately, due to imaging restrictions, the more routinely used hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) stain is typically unavailable with MxIF on the same tissue section. As biological H&E staining is not feasible, previous efforts have been made to obtain H&E whole slide image (WSI) from MxIF via deep learning empowered virtual staining. However, the tiling effect is a long-lasting problem in high-resolution WSI-wise synthesis. The MxIF to H&E synthesis is no exception. Limited by computational resources, the cross-stain image synthesis is typically performed at the patch-level. Thus, discontinuous intensities might be visually identified along with the patch boundaries assembling all individual patches back to a WSI. In this work, we propose a deep learning based unpaired high-resolution image synthesis method to obtain virtual H&E WSIs from MxIF WSIs (each with 27 markers/stains) with reduced tiling effects. Briefly, we first extend the CycleGAN framework by adding simultaneous nuclei and mucin segmentation supervision as spatial constraints. Then, we introduce a random sliding window shifting strategy during the optimized inference stage to alleviate the tiling effects. The validation results show that our spatially constrained synthesis method achieves a 56% performance gain for the downstream cell segmentation task. The proposed inference method reduces the tiling effects by using 50% fewer computation resources without compromising performance. The proposed random sliding window inference method is a plug-and-play module, which can be generalized and used for other high-resolution WSI image synthesis applications. The source code with our proposed model are available at https://github.com/MASILab/RandomWalkSlidingWindow.git