Fundamental Concepts for Semiquantitative Tissue Scoring in Translational Research

David K. Meyerholz, Amanda P. Beck

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

46 Scopus citations


Failure to reproduce results from some scientific studies has raised awareness of the critical need for reproducibility in translational studies. Macroscopic and microscopic examination is a common approach to determine changes in tissues, but text descriptions and visual images have limitations for group comparisons. Semiquantitative scoring is a way of transforming qualitative tissue data into numerical data that allow more robust group comparisons. Semiquantitative scoring has broad uses in preclinical and clinical studies for evaluation of tissue lesions. Reproducibility can be improved by constraining bias through appropriate experimental design, randomization of tissues, effective use of multidisciplinary collaborations, and valid masking procedures. Scoring can be applied to tissue lesions (eg, size, distribution, characteristics) and also to tissues through evaluation of staining distribution and intensity. Semiquantitative scores should be validated to demonstrate relevance to biological data and to demonstrate observer reproducibility. Statistical analysis should make use of appropriate tests to give robust confidence in the results and interpretations. Following key principles of semiquantitative scoring will not only enhance descriptive tissue evaluation but also improve quality, reproducibility, and rigor of tissue studies.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)13-17
Number of pages5
JournalILAR journal
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 1 2018


  • bias
  • clinical
  • grading
  • pathology
  • preclinical
  • reproducibility
  • semiquantitative scoring
  • tissue scores

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Animal Science and Zoology
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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