Sci Rep. 2022 Oct 27;12(1):18094. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-22819-4.
Despite the availability of efficacious direct-acting antiviral (DAA) therapy, the number of people infected with hepatitis C virus (HCV) continues to rise, and HCV remains a leading cause of liver-related morbidity, liver transplantation, and mortality. We developed and validated machine learning (ML) algorithms to predict DAA treatment failure. Using the HCV-TARGET registry of adults who initiated all-oral DAA treatment, we developed elastic net (EN), random forest (RF), gradient boosting machine (GBM), and feedforward neural network (FNN) ML algorithms. Model performances were compared with multivariable logistic regression (MLR) by assessing C statistics and other prediction evaluation metrics. Among 6525 HCV-infected adults, 308 patients (4.7%) experienced DAA treatment failure. ML models performed similarly in predicting DAA treatment failure (C statistic [95% CI]: EN, 0.74 [0.69-0.79]; RF, 0.74 [0.69-0.80]; GBM, 0.72 [0.67-0.78]; FNN, 0.75 [0.70-0.80]), and all 4 outperformed MLR (C statistic [95% CI]: 0.51 [0.46-0.57]), and EN used the fewest predictors (n = 27). With Youden index, the EN had 58.4% sensitivity and 77.8% specificity, and nine patients were needed to evaluate to identify 1 DAA treatment failure. Over 60% treatment failure were classified in top three risk decile subgroups. EN-identified predictors included male sex, treatment < 8 weeks, treatment discontinuation due to adverse events, albumin level < 3.5 g/dL, total bilirubin level > 1.2 g/dL, advanced liver disease, and use of tobacco, alcohol, or vitamins. Addressing modifiable factors of DAA treatment failure may reduce the burden of retreatment. Machine learning algorithms have the potential to inform public health policies regarding curative treatment of HCV.