BackgroundLiver fibrosis is the strongest histological risk factor for liver-related complications and mortality in metabolic dysfunction-associated fatty liver disease (MAFLD). Second harmonic generation/two-photon excitation fluorescence (SHG/TPEF) is a powerful tool for label-free two-dimensional and three-dimensional tissue visualisation that shows promise in liver fibrosis assessment.AimTo investigate combining multi-photon microscopy (MPM) and deep learning techniques to develop and validate a new automated quantitative histological classification tool, named AutoFibroNet (Automated Liver Fibrosis Grading Network), for accurately staging liver fibrosis in MAFLD.MethodsAutoFibroNet was developed in a training cohort that consisted of 203 Chinese adults with biopsy-confirmed MAFLD. Three deep learning models (VGG16, ResNet34, and MobileNet V3) were used to train pre-processed images and test data sets. Multi-layer perceptrons were used to fuse data (deep learning features, clinical features, and manual features) to build a joint model. This model was then validated in two further independent cohorts.ResultsAutoFibroNet showed good discrimination in the training set. For F0, F1, F2 and F3-4 fibrosis stages, the area under the receiver operating characteristic curves (AUROC) of AutoFibroNet were 1.00, 0.99, 0.98 and 0.98. The AUROCs of F0, F1, F2 and F3-4 fibrosis stages for AutoFibroNet in the two validation cohorts were 0.99, 0.83, 0.80 and 0.90 and 1.00, 0.83, 0.80 and 0.94, respectively, showing a good discriminatory ability in different cohorts.ConclusionAutoFibroNet is an automated quantitative tool that accurately identifies histological stages of liver fibrosis in Chinese individuals with MAFLD.
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