Scientific Literature

Computationally-Guided Development of a Stromal Inflammation Histologic Biomarker in Lung Squamous Cell Carcinoma

D. Xia, R. Casanova, D. Machiraju, T. D. McKee, W. Weder, A. H. Beck, A. Soltermann , Scientific Reports , DOI: 10.1038/s41598-018-22254-4

The goal of this study is to use computational pathology to help guide the development of human-based prognostic H&E biomarker(s) suitable for research and potential clinical use in lung squamous cell carcinoma (SCC). We started with high-throughput computational image analysis with tissue microarrays (TMAs) to screen for histologic features associated with patient overall survival, and found that features related to stromal inflammation were the most strongly prognostic. Based on this, we developed an H&E stromal inflammation (SI) score. The prognostic value of the SI score was validated by two blinded human observers on two large cohorts from a single institution. The SI score was found to be reproducible on TMAs (Spearman rho = 0.88 between the two observers), and highly prognostic (e.g. hazard ratio = 0.32; 95% confidence interval: 0.19–0.54; p-value = 2.5 × 10−5 in multivariate analyses), particularly in comparison to established histologic biomarkers. Guided by downstream molecular/biomarker correlation studies starting with TCGA cases, we investigated the hypothesis that epithelial PD-L1 expression modified the prognostic value of SI. Our research demonstrates that computational pathology can be an efficient hypothesis generator for human pathology research, and support the histologic evaluation of SI as a prognostic biomarker in lung SCCs.