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Computers in biology and medicine


OBJECTIVES: It is important to subdivide Parkinson's disease (PD) into subtypes, enabling potentially earlier disease recognition and tailored treatment strategies. We aimed to identify reproducible PD subtypes robust to variations in the number of patients and features.

METHODS: We applied multiple feature-reduction and cluster-analysis methods to cross-sectional and timeless data, extracted from longitudinal datasets (years 0, 1, 2 & 4; Parkinson's Progressive Marker Initiative; 885 PD/163 healthy-control visits; 35 datasets with combinations of non-imaging, conventional-imaging, and radiomics features from DAT-SPECT images). Hybrid machine-learning systems were constructed invoking 16 feature-reduction algorithms, 8 clustering algorithms, and 16 classifiers (C-index clustering evaluation used on each trajectory). We subsequently performed: i) identification of optimal subtypes, ii) multiple independent tests to assess reproducibility, iii) further confirmation by a statistical approach, iv) test of reproducibility to the size of the samples.

RESULTS: When using no radiomics features, the clusters were not robust to variations in features, whereas, utilizing radiomics information enabled consistent generation of clusters through ensemble analysis of trajectories. We arrived at 3 distinct subtypes, confirmed using the training and testing process of k-means, as well as Hotelling's T2 test. The 3 identified PD subtypes were 1) mild; 2) intermediate; and 3) severe, especially in terms of dopaminergic deficit (imaging), with some escalating motor and non-motor manifestations.

CONCLUSION: Appropriate hybrid systems and independent statistical tests enable robust identification of 3 distinct PD subtypes. This was assisted by utilizing radiomics features from SPECT images (segmented using MRI). The PD subtypes provided were robust to the number of the subjects, and features.

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