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Machine learning models for differential diagnosis of Cushing’s disease and ectopic ACTH secretion syndrome

Endocrine. 2023 Mar 18. doi: 10.1007/s12020-023-03341-7. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Using machine learning (ML) to explore the noninvasive differential diagnosis of Cushing’s disease (CD) and ectopic corticotropin (ACTH) secretion (EAS) model is the next hot research topic. This study was to develop and evaluate ML models for differentially diagnosing CD and EAS in ACTH-dependent Cushing’s syndrome (CS).

METHODS: Two hundred sixty-four CD and forty-seven EAS were randomly divided into training and validation and test datasets. We applied 8 ML algorithms to select the most suitable model. The diagnostic performance of the optimal model and bilateral petrosal sinus sampling (BIPSS) were compared in the same cohort.

RESULTS: Eleven adopted variables included age, gender, BMI, duration of disease, morning cortisol, serum ACTH, 24-h UFC, serum potassium, HDDST, LDDST, and MRI. After model selection, the Random Forest (RF) model had the most extraordinary diagnostic performance, with a ROC AUC of 0.976 ± 0.03, a sensitivity of 98.9% ± 4.4%, and a specificity of 87.9% ± 3.0%. The serum potassium, MRI, and serum ACTH were the top three most important features in the RF model. In the validation dataset, the RF model had an AUC of 0.932, a sensitivity of 95.0%, and a specificity of 71.4%. In the complete dataset, the ROC AUC of the RF model was 0.984 (95% CI 0.950-0.993), which was significantly higher than HDDST and LDDST (both p < 0.001). There was no significant statistical difference in the comparison of ROC AUC between the RF model and BIPSS (baseline ROC AUC 0.988 95% CI 0.983-1.000, after stimulation ROC AUC 0.992 95% CI 0.983-1.000). This diagnostic model was shared as an open-access website.

CONCLUSIONS: A machine learning-based model could be a practical noninvasive approach to distinguishing CD and EAS. The diagnostic performance might be close to BIPSS.

PMID:36933156 | DOI:10.1007/s12020-023-03341-7

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