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New quantitative features for the morphological differentiation of abnormal lymphoid cell images from peripheral blood
  1. Laura Puigví1,2,
  2. Anna Merino1,
  3. Santiago Alférez2,
  4. Andrea Acevedo1,2,
  5. José Rodellar2
  1. 1 Biomedical Diagnostic Center, Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Spain
  2. 2 CoDAlab, Polytechnic University of Catalonia, Barcelona, Spain
  1. Correspondence to Anna Merino, Biomedical Diagnostic Center, Hospital Clínic of Barcelona, University of Barcelona, Barcelona, Catalunya 08036, Spain; amerino{at}


Aims This work aims to propose a set of quantitative features through digital image analysis for significant morphological qualitative features of different cells for an objective discrimination among reactive, abnormal and blast lymphoid cells.

Methods Abnormal lymphoid cells circulating in peripheral blood in chronic lymphocytic leukaemia, B-prolymphocytic leukaemia, hairy cell leukaemia, splenic marginal zone lymphoma, mantle cell lymphoma, follicular lymphoma, T-prolymphocytic leukaemia, T large granular lymphocytic leukaemia and Sézary syndrome, normal, reactive and blast lymphoid cells were included. From 325 patients, 12 574 cell images were obtained and 2676 features (27 geometric and 2649 related to colour and texture) were extracted and analysed.

Results We analysed the 20 most relevant features for the morphological differentiation of the 12 lymphoid cell groups under study. Most of them showed significant differences: 19 comparing follicular and mantle cells, 18 for blast and reactive cells, 17 for Sézary cells and T prolymphocytes and 16 for B and T prolymphocytes and 16 for villous lymphocytes. Moreover, a total of five quantitative features were significant for the discrimination among reactive and the set of abnormal lymphoid cells included.

Conclusions Image analysis may assist in quantifying cell morphology turning qualitative data into quantitative values. New cytological variables were established based on geometric and colour/texture features to contribute to a more accurate and objective morphological assessment of lymphoid cells and their association with flow cytometry methods may be interesting to explore in the next future.

  • lymphocytes
  • image analysis
  • cytopathology
  • lymphomas
  • leukaemias

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  • Handling editor Mary Frances McMullin

  • Contributors All the authors have contributed in this article. The team is a multidisciplinary group involving medical and engineering fields.

  • Funding This work is part of a research project funded by the Directory of Science, Technology and Innovation of the Ministry of Economy and Competitiveness of Spain, with reference DPI2015-64493-R.

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Correction notice This paper has been amended since it was published Online First. Owing to a scripting error, some of the publisher names in the references were replaced with ’BMJ Publishing Group'. This only affected the full text version, not the PDF. We have since corrected these errors and the correct publishers have been inserted into the references.