Investigating Human Gut Microbiome in Obesity with Machine Learning Methods

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Obesity is a common disease among all ages that has threatened human health and has become a global concern. Gut microbiota can affect human metabolism and thus may modulate obesity. Certain mixes of gut microbiota can protect the host to be healthy or predispose the host to obesity. Modern next-generation sequencing technique allows accessing huge amount of genetic information underlying microbiota and thus provides new insights into the functionality of these micro-organisms and their interactions with the host. Multiple previous studies have demonstrated that the microbiome might contribute to obesity by increasing dietary energy harvest, promoting fat deposition and triggering ... continued below

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Zhong, Yuqing August 2017.

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  • Zhong, Yuqing

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Obesity is a common disease among all ages that has threatened human health and has become a global concern. Gut microbiota can affect human metabolism and thus may modulate obesity. Certain mixes of gut microbiota can protect the host to be healthy or predispose the host to obesity. Modern next-generation sequencing technique allows accessing huge amount of genetic information underlying microbiota and thus provides new insights into the functionality of these micro-organisms and their interactions with the host. Multiple previous studies have demonstrated that the microbiome might contribute to obesity by increasing dietary energy harvest, promoting fat deposition and triggering systemic inflammation. However, these researches are either based on lab cultivation studies or basic statistical analysis. In order to further explore how gut microbiota affect obesity, this thesis utilize a series of machine learning methods to analyze large amount of metagenomics data from human gut microbiome. The publicly available HMP (Human Microbiome Project) metagenomic sequencing data, contain microbiome data for healthy adults, including overweight and obese individuals, were used for this study. HMP gut data were organized based on two different feature definitions: taxonomic information and metabolic reconstruction information. Several widely used classification algorithms: namely Naive Bayes, Random Forest, SVM and elastic net logistic regression were applied to predict healthy or obese status of the subjects based on the cross-validation accuracy. Furthermore, the corresponding feature selection algorithms were used to identify signature features in each dataset that lead to the differences between healthy and obese samples. The results showed that these algorithms perform poorly on taxonomic data than metabolic pathway data though lots of selected taxa are still supported by literature. Among all the combinations between different algorithms and data, elastic net logistic regression has the best cross-validation performance and thus becomes the best model. In this model, several important features are found and some of these are consistent with the previous studies. Rerunning classifiers by using features selected by elastic net logistic regression again further improved the performance of the classifiers. On the other hand, this study uncovered some new features that haven't been supported by previous studies. The new features could also be the potential target to distinguish obese and healthy subjects. The present thesis work compares the strengths and weaknesses of different machine learning techniques with different types of features originating from the same metagenomics data. The features selected by these models could provide a deep understanding of the metabolic mechanisms of micro-organisms. It is therefore worth to comprehensively understand the differences of gut microbiota between healthy and obese subjects, and particularly how gut microbiome affects obesity.

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  • August 2017

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  • Oct. 9, 2017, 11:44 a.m.

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Zhong, Yuqing. Investigating Human Gut Microbiome in Obesity with Machine Learning Methods, thesis, August 2017; Denton, Texas. (digital.library.unt.edu/ark:/67531/metadc1011875/: accessed September 22, 2018), University of North Texas Libraries, Digital Library, digital.library.unt.edu; .