Evaluation of Face2Gene using facial images of patients with congenital dysmorphic syndromes recruited in Japan


An increasing number of genetic syndromes present a challenge to clinical geneticists. A deep learning-based diagnosis assistance system, Face2Gene, utilizes the aggregation of “gestalt,” comprising data summarizing features of patients’ facial images, to suggest candidate syndromes. Because Face2Gene’s results may be affected by ethnicity and age at which training facial images were taken, the system performance for patients in Japan is still unclear. Here, we present an evaluation of Face2Gene using the following two patient groups recruited in Japan: Group 1 consisting of 74 patients with 47 congenital dysmorphic syndromes, and Group 2 consisting of 34 patients with Down syndrome. In Group 1, facial recognition failed for 4 of 74 patients, while 13–21 of 70 patients had a diagnosis for which Face2Gene had not been trained. Omitting these 21 patients, for 85.7% (42/49) of the remainder, the correct syndrome was identified within the top 10 suggested list. In Group 2, for the youngest facial images taken for each of the 34 patients, Down syndrome was successfully identified as the highest-ranking condition using images taken from newborns to those aged 25 years. For the oldest facial images taken at ≥20 years in each of 17 applicable patients, Down syndrome was successfully identified as the highest- and second-highest-ranking condition in 82.2% (14/17) and 100% (17/17) of the patients using images taken from 20 to 40 years. These results suggest that Face2Gene in its current format is already useful in suggesting candidate syndromes to clinical geneticists, using patients with congenital dysmorphic syndromes in Japan.

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We thank Bambi-no-kai, the supporting organization for individuals with chromosomal disabilities, for public relations help regarding research participation in Group 2. We also thank Edanz (www.edanzediting.co.jp) for editing the English text of a draft of this manuscript. This study was supported by JSPS KAKENHI Grant Number JP18K07850 and by AMED under Grant Number JP19kk0205014, JP19ek0109234, and JP19ek0109301.

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Correspondence to Hiroyuki Mishima.

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Mishima, H., Suzuki, H., Doi, M. et al. Evaluation of Face2Gene using facial images of patients with congenital dysmorphic syndromes recruited in Japan. J Hum Genet 64, 789–794 (2019). https://doi.org/10.1038/s10038-019-0619-z

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