Publication date: Apr 18, 2019
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an adult-onset neurodegenerative disease progressively affecting upper and lower motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. Mean life expectancy is three to five years, with paralysis of muscles, respiratory failure and loss of vital functions being the common causes of death. Clinical manifestations of ALS are heterogeneous due to the mix of anatomic regions involvement and the variability in disease course; consequently, diagnosis and prognosis at the level of individual patient is really challenging. Prediction of ALS progression and stratification of patients into meaningful subgroups have been long-standing interests to clinical practice, research and drug development.
We developed a Dynamic Bayesian Network (DBN) model on more than 4500 ALS patients included in the Pooled Resource Open-Access ALS Clinical Trials Database (PRO-ACT), in order to detect probabilistic relationships among clinical variables and identify risk factors related to survival and loss of vital functions. Furthermore, the DBN was used to simulate the temporal evolution of an ALS cohort predicting survival and the time to impairment of vital functions (communication, swallowing, gait and respiration). A first attempt to stratify patients by risk factors and simulate the progression of ALS subgroups was also implemented.
The DBN model provided the prediction of ALS most probable trajectories over time in terms of important clinical outcomes, including survival and loss of autonomy in functional domains. Furthermore, it allowed the identification of biomarkers related to patients’ clinical status as well as vital functions, and unrevealed their probabilistic relationships. For instance, DBN found that bicarbonate and calcium levels influence survival time; moreover, the model evidenced dependencies over time among phosphorus level, movement impairment and creatinine. Finally, our model provided a tool to stratify patients into subgroups of different prognosis studying the effect of specific variables, or combinations of them, on either survival time or time to loss of autonomy in specific functional domains.
The analysis of the risk factors and the simulation allowed by our DBN model might enable better support for ALS prognosis as well as a deeper insight into disease manifestations, in a context of a personalized medicine approach.
Open Access PDF
Zandon`a, A., Vasta, R., Chi`o, A., and Di Camillo, B. A Dynamic Bayesian Network model for the simulation of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis progression. 04442. 2019 BMC Bioinformatics (20):Suppl 4.