Springer Nature

Probabilistic modeling methods for cell-free DNA methylation based cancer classification

Posted on 2022-04-05 - 08:32
Abstract Background cfMeDIP-seq is a low-cost method for determining the DNA methylation status of cell-free DNA and it has been successfully combined with statistical methods for accurate cancer diagnostics. We investigate the diagnostic classification aspect by applying statistical tests and dimension reduction techniques for feature selection and probabilistic modeling for the cancer type classification, and we also study the effect of sequencing depth. Methods We experiment with a variety of statistical methods that use different feature selection and feature extraction methods as well as probabilistic classifiers for diagnostic decision making. We test the (moderated) t-tests and the Fisher’s exact test for feature selection, principal component analysis (PCA) as well as iterative supervised PCA (ISPCA) for feature generation, and GLMnet and logistic regression methods with sparsity promoting priors for classification. Probabilistic programming language Stan is used to implement Bayesian inference for the probabilistic models. Results and conclusions We compare overlaps of differentially methylated genomic regions as chosen by different feature selection methods, and evaluate probabilistic classifiers by evaluating the area under the receiver operating characteristic scores on discovery and validation cohorts. While we observe that many methods perform equally well as, and occasionally considerably better than, GLMnet that was originally proposed for cfMeDIP-seq based cancer classification, we also observed that performance of different methods vary across sequencing depths, cancer types and study cohorts. Overall, methods that seem robust and promising include Fisher’s exact test and ISPCA for feature selection as well as a simple logistic regression model with the number of hyper and hypo-methylated regions as features.


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