Discovery of Distinct Immune Phenotypes Using Machine Learning in Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension. Circulation research Sweatt, A. J., Hedlin, H. K., Balasubramanian, V. n., Hsi, A. n., Blum, L. K., Robinson, W. H., Haddad, F. n., Hickey, P. M., Condliffe, R. A., Lawrie, A. n., Nicolls, M. R., Rabinovitch, M. n., Khatri, P. n., Zamanian, R. T. 2019


Accumulating evidence implicates inflammation in pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) and therapies targeting immunity are under investigation, though it remains unknown if distinct immune phenotypes exist.Identify PAH immune phenotypes based on unsupervised analysis of blood proteomic profiles.In a prospective observational study of Group 1 PAH patients evaluated at Stanford University (discovery cohort, n=281) and University of Sheffield (validation cohort, n=104) between 2008-2014, we measured a circulating proteomic panel of 48 cytokines, chemokines, and factors using multiplex immunoassay. Unsupervised machine learning (consensus clustering) was applied in both cohorts independently to classify patients into proteomic immune clusters, without guidance from clinical features. To identify central proteins in each cluster, we performed partial correlation network analysis. Clinical characteristics and outcomes were subsequently compared across clusters. Four PAH clusters with distinct proteomic immune profiles were identified in the discovery cohort. Cluster 2 (n=109) had low cytokine levels similar to controls. Other clusters had unique sets of upregulated proteins central to immune networks- cluster 1 (n=58)(TRAIL, CCL5, CCL7, CCL4, MIF), cluster 3 (n=77)(IL-12, IL-17, IL-10, IL-7, VEGF), and cluster 4 (n=37)(IL-8, IL-4, PDGF-ß, IL-6, CCL11). Demographics, PAH etiologies, comorbidities, and medications were similar across clusters. Non-invasive and hemodynamic surrogates of clinical risk identified cluster 1 as high-risk and cluster 3 as low-risk groups. Five-year transplant-free survival rates were unfavorable for cluster 1 (47.6%, CI 35.4-64.1%) and favorable for cluster 3 (82.4%, CI 72.0-94.3%)(across-cluster p<0.001). Findings were replicated in the validation cohort, where machine learning classified four immune clusters with comparable proteomic, clinical, and prognostic features.Blood cytokine profiles distinguish PAH immune phenotypes with differing clinical risk that are independent of World Health Organization Group 1 subtypes. These phenotypes could inform mechanistic studies of disease pathobiology and provide a framework to examine patient responses to emerging therapies targeting immunity.

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