Background. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease primarily affecting upper and lower motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. The heterogeneity in the course of ALS clinical progression and ultimately survival, coupled with the rarity of this disease, make predicting disease outcome at the level of the individual patient very challenging. Besides, stratification of ALS patients has been known for years as a question of great importance to clinical practice, research and drug development.
Methods. In this work, we present a Dynamic Bayesian Network (DBN) model of ALS progression to detect probabilistic relationships among variables included in the Pooled Resource Open-Access ALS Clinical Trials Database (PRO-ACT), which provides records of over 10,700 patients from different clinical trials, and with over 2,869,973 longitudinally collected data measurements.
Results. Our model unravels new dependencies among clinical variables in relation to ALS progression, such as the influence of basophil count and creatine kinase on patients’ clinical status and the respiratory functional state, respectively. Furthermore, it provided an indication of ALS temporal evolution, in terms of the most probable disease trajectories across time at the level of both patient population and individual patient.
Conclusions. The risk factors identified by out DBN model could allow patients' stratification based on velocity of disease progression and a sensitivity analysis on this latter in response to changes in input variables, i.e. variables measured at diagnosis.