A Network-Based Analysis of Disease Complication Associations for Obstetric Disorders in the UK Biobank

J Pers Med. 2021 Dec 17;11(12):1382. doi: 10.3390/jpm11121382.


Background: Recent studies have found that women with obstetric disorders are at increased risk for a variety of long-term complications. However, the underlying pathophysiology of these connections remains undetermined. A network-based view incorporating knowledge of other diseases and genetic associations will aid our understanding of the role of genetics in pregnancy-related disease complications.

Methods: We built a disease-disease network (DDN) using UK Biobank (UKBB) summary data from a phenome-wide association study (PheWAS) to elaborate multiple disease associations. We also constructed egocentric DDNs, where each network focuses on a pregnancy-related disorder and its neighboring diseases. We then applied graph-based semi-supervised learning (GSSL) to translate the connections in the egocentric DDNs to pathologic knowledge.

Results: A total of 26 egocentric DDNs were constructed for each pregnancy-related phenotype in the UKBB. Applying GSSL to each DDN, we obtained complication risk scores for additional phenotypes given the pregnancy-related disease of interest. Predictions were validated using co-occurrences derived from UKBB electronic health records. Our proposed method achieved an increase in average area under the receiver operating characteristic curve (AUC) by a factor of 1.35 from 55.0% to 74.4% compared to the use of the full DDN.

Conclusion: Egocentric DDNs hold promise as a clinical tool for the network-based identification of potential disease complications for a variety of phenotypes.

Keywords: PheWAS; disease complication; disease–disease network; network medicine; obstetric disorders; pregnancy-related complications; semi-supervised learning.