PloS one

Data Mining of Determinants of Intrauterine Growth Retardation Revisited Using Novel Algorithms Generating Semantic Maps and Prototypical Discriminating Variable Profiles.

PMID 26158499


Intra-uterine growth retardation is often of unknown origin, and is of great interest as a "Fetal Origin of Adult Disease" has been now well recognized. We built a benchmark based upon a previously analysed data set related to Intrauterine Growth Retardation with 46 subjects described by 14 variables, related with the insulin-like growth factor system and pro-inflammatory cytokines, namely interleukin-6 and tumor necrosis factor-α. We used new algorithms for optimal information sorting based on the combination of two neural network algorithms: Auto-contractive Map and Activation and Competition System. Auto-Contractive Map spatializes the relationships among variables or records by constructing a suitable embedding space where 'closeness' among variables or records reflects accurately their associations. The Activation and Competition System algorithm instead works as a dynamic non linear associative memory on the weight matrices of other algorithms, and is able to produce a prototypical variable profile of a given target. Classical statistical analysis, proved to be unable to distinguish intrauterine growth retardation from appropriate-for-gestational age (AGA) subjects due to the high non-linearity of underlying functions. Auto-contractive map succeeded in clustering and differentiating completely the conditions under study, while Activation and Competition System allowed to develop the profile of variables which discriminated the two conditions under study better than any other previous form of attempt. In particular, Activation and Competition System showed that ppropriateness for gestational age was explained by IGF-2 relative gene expression, and by IGFBP-2 and TNF-α placental contents. IUGR instead was explained by IGF-I, IGFBP-1, IGFBP-2 and IL-6 gene expression in placenta. This further analysis provided further insight into the placental key-players of fetal growth within the insulin-like growth factor and cytokine systems. Our previous published analysis could identify only which variables were predictive of fetal growth in general, and identified only some relationships.