Sparse Modeling Reveals miRNA Signatures for Diagnostics of Inflammatory Bowel Disease.

Matthias Hübenthal, Georg Hemmrich-Stanisak, Frauke Degenhardt, Silke Szymczak, Zhipei Du, Abdou Elsharawy, Andreas Keller, Stefan Schreiber, Andre Franke
Year of publication:
Journal title abbreviated:
Journal title long:
PloS one
Impact factor:
The diagnosis of inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) still remains a clinical challenge and the most accurate diagnostic procedure is a combination of clinical tests including invasive endoscopy. In this study we evaluated whether systematic miRNA expression profiling, in conjunction with machine learning techniques, is suitable as a non-invasive test for the major IBD phenotypes (Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC)). Based on microarray technology, expression levels of 863 miRNAs were determined for whole blood samples from 40 CD and 36 UC patients and compared to data from 38 healthy controls (HC). To further discriminate between disease-specific and general inflammation we included miRNA expression data from other inflammatory diseases (inflammation controls (IC): 24 chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), 23 multiple sclerosis, 38 pancreatitis and 45 sarcoidosis cases) as well as 70 healthy controls from previous studies. Classification problems considering 2, 3 or 4 groups were solved using different types of penalized support vector machines (SVMs). The resulting models were assessed regarding sparsity and performance and a subset was selected for further investigation. Measured by the area under the ROC curve (AUC) the corresponding median holdout-validated accuracy was estimated as ranging from 0.75 to 1.00 (including IC) and 0.89 to 0.98 (excluding IC), respectively. In combination, the corresponding models provide tools for the distinction of CD and UC as well as CD, UC and HC with expected classification error rates of 3.1 and 3.3%, respectively. These results were obtained by incorporating not more than 16 distinct miRNAs. Validated target genes of these miRNAs have been previously described as being related to IBD. For others we observed significant enrichment for IBD susceptibility loci identified in earlier GWAS. These results suggest that the proposed miRNA signature is of relevance for the etiology of IBD. Its diagnostic value, however, should be further evaluated in large, independent, clinically well characterized cohorts.