Consistent quantitative gene product expression: #1. Automated identification of regenerating bone marrow cell populations using support vector machines.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Cytometry. Part A : the journal of the International Society for Analytical Cytology, Volume 89, Issue 11, p.978-986 (2016)


Identification and quantification of maturing hematopoietic cell populations in flow cytometry data sets is a complex and sometimes irreproducible step in data analysis. Supervised machine learning algorithms present promise to automatically classify cells into populations, reducing subjective bias in data analysis. We describe the use of support vector machines (SVMs), a supervised algorithm, to reproducibly identify two distinctly different populations of normal hematopoietic cells, mature lymphocytes and uncommitted progenitor cells, in the challenging setting of pediatric bone marrow specimens obtained 1 month after chemotherapy. Four-color flow cytometry data were collected on a FACS Calibur for 77 randomly selected postchemotherapy pediatric patients enrolled on the Children's Oncology Group clinical trial AAML1031. These patients demonstrated no evidence of detectable residual disease and were divided into training (n = 27) and testing (n = 50) cohorts. SVMs were trained to identify mature lymphocytes and uncommitted progenitor cells in the training cohort before independent evaluation of prediction efficiency in the testing cohort. Both SVMs demonstrated high predictive performance (lymphocyte SVM: sensitivity >0.99, specificity >0.99; uncommitted progenitor cell SVM: sensitivity = 0.94, specificity >0.99) and closely mirrored manual cell classifications by two expert-analysts. SVMs present an efficient, automated methodology for identifying normal cell populations even in stressed bone marrows, replicating the performance of an expert while reducing the intrinsic bias of gating procedures between multiple analysts. © 2016 The Authors. Cytometry Part A published by Wiley Periodicals, Inc. on behalf of ISAC.