Predicting Bone Metastasis Using Gene Expression-Based Machine Learning Models

Somayah Albaradei, Mahmut Uludag, Maha A. Thafar, Takashi Gojobori, Magbubah Essack, Xin Gao

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


Bone is the most common site of distant metastasis from malignant tumors, with the highest prevalence observed in breast and prostate cancers. Such bone metastases (BM) cause many painful skeletal-related events, such as severe bone pain, pathological fractures, spinal cord compression, and hypercalcemia, with adverse effects on life quality. Many bone-targeting agents developed based on the current understanding of BM onset’s molecular mechanisms dull these adverse effects. However, only a few studies investigated potential predictors of high risk for developing BM, despite such knowledge being critical for early interventions to prevent or delay BM. This work proposes a computational network-based pipeline that incorporates a ML/DL component to predict BM development. Based on the proposed pipeline we constructed several machine learning models. The deep neural network (DNN) model exhibited the highest prediction accuracy (AUC of 92.11%) using the top 34 featured genes ranked by betweenness centrality scores. We further used an entirely separate, “external” TCGA dataset to evaluate the robustness of this DNN model and achieved sensitivity of 85%, specificity of 80%, positive predictive value of 78.10%, negative predictive value of 80%, and AUC of 85.78%. The result shows the models’ way of learning allowed it to zoom in on the featured genes that provide the added benefit of the model displaying generic capabilities, that is, to predict BM for samples from different primary sites. Furthermore, existing experimental evidence provides confidence that about 50% of the 34 hub genes have BM-related functionality, which suggests that these common genetic markers provide vital insight about BM drivers. These findings may prompt the transformation of such a method into an artificial intelligence (AI) diagnostic tool and direct us towards mechanisms that underlie metastasis to bone events.
Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
StatePublished - Nov 10 2021

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics(clinical)


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