Identifying a neuroanatomical signature of schizophrenia, reproducible across sites and stages, using machine learning with structured sparsity

Abstract : Objective: Structural MRI (sMRI) increasingly offers insight into abnormalities inherent to schizophrenia. Previous machine learning applications suggest that individual classification is feasible and reliable and, however, is focused on the predictive performance of the clinical status in cross-sectional designs, which has limited biological perspectives. Moreover, most studies depend on relatively small cohorts or single recruiting site. Finally, no study controlled for disease stage or medication's effect. These elements cast doubt on previous findings' reproducibility. Method: We propose a machine learning algorithm that provides an interpretable brain signature. Using large datasets collected from 4 sites (276 schizophrenia patients, 330 controls), we assessed cross-site prediction reproducibility and associated predictive signature. For the first time, we evaluated the predictive signature regarding medication and illness duration using an independent dataset of first-episode patients. Results: Machine learning classifiers based on neuroanatomical features yield significant intersite prediction accuracies (72%) together with an excellent predictive signature stability. This signature provides a neural score significantly correlated with symptom severity and the extent of cognitive impairments. Moreover, this signature demonstrates its efficiency on first-episode psychosis patients (73% accuracy). Conclusion: These results highlight the existence of a common neuroanatomical signature for schizophrenia, shared by a majority of patients even from an early stage of the disorder. Significant outcomes • Significant intersite prediction accuracy of clinical diagnosis based on sMRI. • Identification of a robust and interpretable structural brain signature of schizophrenia. • The predictive signature generalizes to the detection of patients at the early stage of the disorder. Limitations • At this stage, this does not imply that such predictive models are able to distinguish patients with various psychiatric conditions. • A minority of patients do not present such brain abnormalities, which directly questions the need for a disorder stratification.
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A. de Pierrefeu, T. Löfstedt, C. Laidi, F. Hadj-Selem, J. Bourgin, et al.. Identifying a neuroanatomical signature of schizophrenia, reproducible across sites and stages, using machine learning with structured sparsity. Acta Psychiatrica Scandinavica, Wiley, 2018, 2018, pp.1 - 10. ⟨10.1111/acps.12964⟩. ⟨cea-01883283⟩

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