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01.12.2018 | Research article | Ausgabe 1/2018 Open Access

BMC Cancer 1/2018

Predicting multi-level drug response with gene expression profile in multiple myeloma using hierarchical ordinal regression

BMC Cancer > Ausgabe 1/2018
Xinyan Zhang, Bingzong Li, Huiying Han, Sha Song, Hongxia Xu, Yating Hong, Nengjun Yi, Wenzhuo Zhuang
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Electronic supplementary material

The online version of this article (https://​doi.​org/​10.​1186/​s12885-018-4483-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.



Multiple myeloma (MM), like other cancers, is caused by the accumulation of genetic abnormalities. Heterogeneity exists in the patients’ response to treatments, for example, bortezomib. This urges efforts to identify biomarkers from numerous molecular features and build predictive models for identifying patients that can benefit from a certain treatment scheme. However, previous studies treated the multi-level ordinal drug response as a binary response where only responsive and non-responsive groups are considered.


It is desirable to directly analyze the multi-level drug response, rather than combining the response to two groups. In this study, we present a novel method to identify significantly associated biomarkers and then develop ordinal genomic classifier using the hierarchical ordinal logistic model. The proposed hierarchical ordinal logistic model employs the heavy-tailed Cauchy prior on the coefficients and is fitted by an efficient quasi-Newton algorithm.


We apply our hierarchical ordinal regression approach to analyze two publicly available datasets for MM with five-level drug response and numerous gene expression measures. Our results show that our method is able to identify genes associated with the multi-level drug response and to generate powerful predictive models for predicting the multi-level response.


The proposed method allows us to jointly fit numerous correlated predictors and thus build efficient models for predicting the multi-level drug response. The predictive model for the multi-level drug response can be more informative than the previous approaches. Thus, the proposed approach provides a powerful tool for predicting multi-level drug response and has important impact on cancer studies.
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