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Use of Steroid Profiling Combined With Machine Learning for Identification and Subtype Classification in Primary Aldosteronism


Eisenhofer, Graeme; Durán, Claudio; Cannistraci, Carlo Vittorio; Peitzsch, Mirko; Williams, Tracy Ann; Riester, Anna; Burrello, Jacopo; Buffolo, Fabrizio; Prejbisz, Aleksander; Beuschlein, Felix; Januszewicz, Andrzej; Mulatero, Paolo; Lenders, Jacques W M; Reincke, Martin (2020). Use of Steroid Profiling Combined With Machine Learning for Identification and Subtype Classification in Primary Aldosteronism. JAMA Network Open, 3(9):e2016209.

Abstract

Importance

Most patients with primary aldosteronism, a major cause of secondary hypertension, are not identified or appropriately treated because of difficulties in diagnosis and subtype classification. Applications of artificial intelligence combined with mass spectrometry-based steroid profiling could address this problem.

Objective

To assess whether plasma steroid profiling combined with machine learning might facilitate diagnosis and treatment stratification of primary aldosteronism, particularly for patients with unilateral adenomas due to pathogenic KCNJ5 sequence variants.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This diagnostic study was conducted at multiple tertiary care referral centers. Steroid profiles were measured from June 2013 to March 2017 in 462 patients tested for primary aldosteronism and 201 patients with hypertension. Data analyses were performed from September 2018 to August 2019.

Main Outcomes and Measures

The aldosterone to renin ratio and saline infusion tests were used to diagnose primary aldosteronism. Subtyping was done by adrenal venous sampling and follow-up of patients who underwent adrenalectomy. Statistical tests and machine-learning algorithms were applied to plasma steroid profiles. Areas under receiver operating characteristic curves, sensitivity, specificity, and other diagnostic performance measures were calculated.

Results

Primary aldosteronism was confirmed in 273 patients (165 men [60%]; mean [SD] age, 51 [10] years), including 134 with bilateral disease and 139 with unilateral adenomas (58 with and 81 without somatic KCNJ5 sequence variants). Plasma steroid profiles varied according to disease subtype and were particularly distinctive in patients with adenomas due to KCNJ5 variants, who showed better rates of biochemical cure after adrenalectomy than other patients. Among patients tested for primary aldosteronism, a selection of 8 steroids in combination with the aldosterone to renin ratio showed improved effectiveness for diagnosis over either strategy alone. In contrast, the steroid profile alone showed superior performance over the aldosterone to renin ratio for identifying unilateral disease, particularly adenomas due to KCNJ5 variants. Among 632 patients included in the analysis, machine learning-designed combinatorial marker profiles of 7 steroids alone both predicted primary aldosteronism in 1 step and subtyped patients with unilateral adenomas due to KCNJ5 variants at diagnostic sensitivities of 69% (95% CI, 68%-71%) and 85% (95% CI, 81%-88%), respectively, and at specificities of 94% (95% CI, 93%-94%) and 97% (95% CI, 97%-98%), respectively. The validation series yielded comparable diagnostic performance.

Conclusions and Relevance

Machine learning-designed combinatorial plasma steroid profiles may facilitate both screening for primary aldosteronism and identification of patients with unilateral adenomas due to pathogenic KCNJ5 variants, who are most likely to show benefit from surgical intervention.

Abstract

Importance

Most patients with primary aldosteronism, a major cause of secondary hypertension, are not identified or appropriately treated because of difficulties in diagnosis and subtype classification. Applications of artificial intelligence combined with mass spectrometry-based steroid profiling could address this problem.

Objective

To assess whether plasma steroid profiling combined with machine learning might facilitate diagnosis and treatment stratification of primary aldosteronism, particularly for patients with unilateral adenomas due to pathogenic KCNJ5 sequence variants.

Design, Setting, and Participants

This diagnostic study was conducted at multiple tertiary care referral centers. Steroid profiles were measured from June 2013 to March 2017 in 462 patients tested for primary aldosteronism and 201 patients with hypertension. Data analyses were performed from September 2018 to August 2019.

Main Outcomes and Measures

The aldosterone to renin ratio and saline infusion tests were used to diagnose primary aldosteronism. Subtyping was done by adrenal venous sampling and follow-up of patients who underwent adrenalectomy. Statistical tests and machine-learning algorithms were applied to plasma steroid profiles. Areas under receiver operating characteristic curves, sensitivity, specificity, and other diagnostic performance measures were calculated.

Results

Primary aldosteronism was confirmed in 273 patients (165 men [60%]; mean [SD] age, 51 [10] years), including 134 with bilateral disease and 139 with unilateral adenomas (58 with and 81 without somatic KCNJ5 sequence variants). Plasma steroid profiles varied according to disease subtype and were particularly distinctive in patients with adenomas due to KCNJ5 variants, who showed better rates of biochemical cure after adrenalectomy than other patients. Among patients tested for primary aldosteronism, a selection of 8 steroids in combination with the aldosterone to renin ratio showed improved effectiveness for diagnosis over either strategy alone. In contrast, the steroid profile alone showed superior performance over the aldosterone to renin ratio for identifying unilateral disease, particularly adenomas due to KCNJ5 variants. Among 632 patients included in the analysis, machine learning-designed combinatorial marker profiles of 7 steroids alone both predicted primary aldosteronism in 1 step and subtyped patients with unilateral adenomas due to KCNJ5 variants at diagnostic sensitivities of 69% (95% CI, 68%-71%) and 85% (95% CI, 81%-88%), respectively, and at specificities of 94% (95% CI, 93%-94%) and 97% (95% CI, 97%-98%), respectively. The validation series yielded comparable diagnostic performance.

Conclusions and Relevance

Machine learning-designed combinatorial plasma steroid profiles may facilitate both screening for primary aldosteronism and identification of patients with unilateral adenomas due to pathogenic KCNJ5 variants, who are most likely to show benefit from surgical intervention.

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Additional indexing

Item Type:Journal Article, refereed, original work
Communities & Collections:04 Faculty of Medicine > University Hospital Zurich > Clinic for Endocrinology and Diabetology
Dewey Decimal Classification:610 Medicine & health
Scopus Subject Areas:Health Sciences > General Medicine
Language:English
Date:1 September 2020
Deposited On:16 Feb 2021 09:58
Last Modified:17 Feb 2021 21:00
Publisher:American Medical Association (AMA)
ISSN:2574-3805
OA Status:Gold
Free access at:Publisher DOI. An embargo period may apply.
Publisher DOI:https://doi.org/10.1001/jamanetworkopen.2020.16209
PubMed ID:32990741

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