Prediction of the Occurrence of Leprosy Reactions Based on Bayesian Networks
Background: Leprosy reactions (LR) are severe episodes of intense activation of the host inflammatory response, of uncertain etiology, today the leading cause of permanent nerve damage in leprosy patients. Several genetic and non-genetic risk factors for LR have been described; however, there are limited attempts to combine this information in order to estimate the risk of a leprosy patient to develop LR. Here we present an artificial intelligence (AI)-based system able to estimate risk of LR using clinical, demographic and genetic data.Methods: The study includes four datasets from different regions of Brazil, totalizing 1,450 leprosy patients followed prospectively for at least two years to assess the occurrence of LR. Data mining using WEKA software was performed following a two-step protocol to select the variables included in the AI system, based on Bayesian Networks and developed using the NETICA software.Results: Analysis of the complete database resulted in a system able to estimate LR-risk with 82.7% accuracy, 79.3% sensitivity, and 86.2% specificity. When using only databases for which host genetic information associated with LR was included, the performance increased to up to 87.7% accuracy, 85.7% sensitivity, and 89.4% specificity.Conclusion: We produced an easy-to-use, online, free-access system that allows the identification of leprosy patients at high risk of developing LR. Risk assessment of LR for individual patients may detect candidates close monitoring, with potential positive impact upon the prevention of permanent disabilities, the quality of life of the patients, as well as upon leprosy control programs.