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Partial Least Squares Discriminant Analysis and Bayesian Networks for Metabolomic Prediction of Childhood Asthma
To explore novel methods for the analysis of metabolomics data, we compared the ability of Partial Least Squares Discriminant Analysis (PLS-DA) and Bayesian networks (BN) to build predictive plasma metabolite models of age three asthma status in 411 three year olds (n = 59 cases and 352 controls) from the Vitamin D Antenatal Asthma Reduction Trial (VDAART) study. The standard PLS-DA approach had impressive accuracy for the prediction of age three asthma with an Area Under the Curve Convex Hull (AUCCH) of 81%. However, a permutation test indicated the possibility of overfitting. In contrast, a predictive Bayesian network including 42 metabolites had a significantly higher AUCCH of 92.1% (p for difference < 0.001), with no evidence that this accuracy was due to overfitting. Both models provided biologically informative insights into asthma; in particular, a role for dysregulated arginine metabolism and several exogenous metabolites that deserve further investigation as potential causative agents. As the BN model outperformed the PLS-DA model in both accuracy and decreased risk of overfitting, it may therefore represent a viable alternative to typical analytical approaches for the investigation of metabolomics data.