Longitudinal microbiome data sets are being generated with increasing regularity, and there is broad recognition that these studies are critical for unlocking the mechanisms through which the microbiome impacts human health and disease. However, there is a dearth of computational tools for analyzing microbiome time-series data. To address this gap, we developed an open-source software package, Microbiome Differentiable Interpretable Temporal Rule Engine (MDITRE), which implements a new highly efficient method leveraging deep-learning technologies to derive human-interpretable rules that predict host status from longitudinal microbiome data. Using semi-synthetic and a large compendium of publicly available 16S rRNA amplicon and metagenomics sequencing data sets, we demonstrate that in almost all cases, MDITRE performs on par with or better than popular uninterpretable machine learning methods, and orders-of-magnitude faster than the prior interpretable technique. MDITRE also provides a graphical user interface, which we show through case studies can be used to derive biologically meaningful interpretations linking patterns of microbiome changes over time with host phenotypes.
Clostridioides difficile infection (CDI) is the most common hospital acquired infection in the USA, with recurrence rates > 15%. Although primary CDI has been extensively linked to gut microbial dysbiosis, less is known about the factors that promote or mitigate recurrence. Using broad metabolomics data and statistics and machine learning models, Jen Dawkins, a HST PhD student and member of the Gerber lab, showed the metabolites in the gut can accurately predict C. difficile recurrence. These findings have implications for development of diagnostic tests and treatments that could ultimately short-circuit the cycle of CDI recurrence, by providing candidate metabolic biomarkers for diagnostics development, as well as offering insights into the complex microbial and metabolic alterations that are protective or permissive for recurrence.
Dawkins JJ, Allegretti JR, Gibson TE, McClure E, Delaney M, Bry L, Gerber GK. Gut metabolites predict Clostridioides difficile recurrence. Microbiome. 2022 Jun 9;10(1):87. doi: 10.1186/s40168-022-01284-1. PMID: 35681218; PMCID: PMC9178838.