ATRPred: A machine learning based tool for clinical decision making of anti-TNF treatment in rheumatoid arthritis patients

Bodhayan Prasad, Cathy McGeough, Amanda Eakin, Tan Ahmed, Dawn Small, Philip Gardiner, Adrian Pendleton, Gary Wright, Anthony J Bjourson, David S Gibson, Priyank Shukla

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Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a chronic autoimmune condition, characterised by joint pain, damage and disability, which can be addressed in a high proportion of patients by timely use of targeted biologic treatments. However, the patients, non-responsive to the treatments often suffer from refractoriness of the disease, leading to poor quality of life. Additionally, the biologic treatments are expensive. We obtained plasma samples from N = 144 participants with RA, who were about to commence anti-tumour necrosis factor (anti-TNF) therapy. These samples were sent to Olink Proteomics, Uppsala, Sweden, where proximity extension assays of 4 panels, containing 92 proteins each, were performed. A total of n = 89 samples of patients passed the quality control. The preliminary analysis of plasma protein expression values suggested that the RA population could be divided into two distinct molecular sub-groups (endotypes). However, these broad groups did not predict response to anti-TNF treatment, but were significantly different in terms of gender and their disease activity. We then labelled these patients as responders (n = 60) and non-responders (n = 29) based on the change in disease activity score (DAS) after 6 months of anti-TNF treatment and applied machine learning (ML) with a rigorous 5-fold nested cross-validation scheme to filter 17 proteins that were significantly associated with the treatment response. We have developed a ML based classifier ATRPred (anti-TNF treatment response predictor), which can predict anti-TNF treatment response in RA patients with 81% accuracy, 75% sensitivity and 86% specificity. ATRPred may aid clinicians to direct anti-TNF therapy to patients most likely to receive benefit, thus save cost as well as prevent non-responsive patients from refractory consequences. ATRPred is implemented in R.
Original languageEnglish
Article numbere1010204
JournalPLoS Computational Biology
Issue number7
Early online date5 Jul 2022
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 5 Jul 2022


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