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Clin J Am Soc Nephrol. 2013 Aug;8(8):1449-59. doi: 10.2215/CJN.08370812. Epub 2013 Feb 7.

Digital pathology evaluation in the multicenter Nephrotic Syndrome Study Network (NEPTUNE).

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Department of Pathology, University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine, 1400 NW 12th Avenue, Miami, FL 33136, USA.


Pathology consensus review for clinical trials and disease classification has historically been performed by manual light microscopy with sequential section review by study pathologists, or multi-headed microscope review. Limitations of this approach include high intra- and inter-reader variability, costs, and delays for slide mailing and consensus reviews. To improve this, the Nephrotic Syndrome Study Network (NEPTUNE) is systematically applying digital pathology review in a multicenter study using renal biopsy whole slide imaging (WSI) for observation-based data collection. Study pathology materials are acquired, scanned, uploaded, and stored in a web-based information system that is accessed through a web-browser interface. Quality control includes metadata and image quality review. Initially, digital slides are annotated, with each glomerulus identified, given a unique number, and maintained in all levels until the glomerulus disappears or sections end. The software allows viewing and annotation of multiple slide sections concurrently. Analysis utilizes "descriptors" for patterns of injury, rather than diagnoses, in renal parenchymal compartments. This multidimensional representation via WSI, allows more accurate glomerular counting and identification of all lesions in each glomerulus, with data available in a searchable database. The use of WSI brings about efficiency critical to pathology review in a clinical trial setting, including independent review by multiple pathologists, improved intraobserver and interobserver reproducibility, efficiencies and risk reduction in slide circulation and mailing, centralized management of data integrity and slide images for current or future studies, and web-based consensus meetings. The overall effect is improved incorporation of pathology review in a budget neutral approach.

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