High-grade pediatric brain tumors exhibit the highest cancer mortality rates in children. While conventional MRI has been widely adopted for examining pediatric high-grade brain tumors clinically, accurate neuroimaging detection and differentiation of tumor histopathology for improved diagnosis, surgical planning, and treatment evaluation, remains an unmet need in their clinical management. We employed a novel Diffusion Histology Imaging (DHI) approach employing diffusion basis spectrum imaging (DBSI) derived metrics as the input classifiers for deep neural network analysis. DHI aims to detect, differentiate, and quantify heterogeneous areas in pediatric high-grade brain tumors, which include normal white matter (WM), densely cellular tumor, less densely cellular tumor, infiltrating edge, necrosis, and hemorrhage. Distinct diffusion metric combination would thus indicate the unique distributions of each distinct tumor histology features. DHI, by incorporating DBSI metrics and the deep neural network algorithm, classified pediatric tumor histology with an overall accuracy of 85.8%. Receiver operating analysis (ROC) analysis suggested DHI’s great capability in distinguishing individual tumor histology with AUC values (95% CI) of 0.984 (0.982–0.986), 0.960 (0.956–0.963), 0.991 (0.990–0.993), 0.950 (0.944–0.956), 0.977 (0.973–0.981) and 0.976 (0.972–0.979) for normal WM, densely cellular tumor, less densely cellular tumor, infiltrating edge, necrosis and hemorrhage, respectively. Our results suggest that DBSI-DNN, or DHI, accurately characterized and classified multiple tumor histologic features in pediatric high-grade brain tumors. If these results could be further validated in patients, the novel DHI might emerge as a favorable alternative to the current neuroimaging techniques to better guide biopsy and resection as well as monitor therapeutic response in patients with high-grade brain tumors.

Original languageEnglish
Article number4749
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2021


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