Robust hierarchical density estimation and regression for re-stained histological whole slide image co-registration

Jun Jiang, Nicholas B. Larson, Naresh Prodduturi, Thomas J. Flotte, Steven N. Hart

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


For many disease conditions, tissue samples are colored with multiple dyes and stains to add contrast and location information for specific proteins to accurately identify and diagnose disease. This presents a computational challenge for digital pathology, as whole-slide images (WSIs) need to be properly overlaid (i.e. registered) to identify co-localized features. Traditional image registration methods sometimes fail due to the high variation of cell density and insufficient texture information in WSIs–particularly at high magnifications. In this paper, we proposed a robust image registration strategy to align re-stained WSIs precisely and efficiently. This method is applied to 30 pairs of immunohistochemical (IHC) stains and their hematoxylin and eosin (H&E) counterparts. Our approach advances the existing methods in three key ways. First, we introduce refinements to existing image registration methods. Second, we present an effective weighting strategy using kernel density estimation to mitigate registration errors. Third, we account for the linear relationship across WSI levels to improve accuracy. Our experiments show significant decreases in registration errors when matching IHC and H&E pairs, enabling subcellular-level analysis on stained and re-stained histological images. We also provide a tool to allow users to develop their own registration benchmarking experiments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0220074
JournalPloS one
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jun 1 2019

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General


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