Motivation

The human microbiome, which is linked to various diseases by growing evidence, has a profound impact on human health. Since changes in the composition of the microbiome across time are associated with disease and clinical outcomes, microbiome analysis should be performed in a longitudinal study. However, due to limited sample sizes and differing numbers of timepoints for different subjects, a significant amount of data cannot be utilized, directly affecting the quality of analysis results. Deep generative models have been proposed to address this lack of data issue. Specifically, a generative adversarial network (GAN) has been successfully utilized for data augmentation to improve prediction tasks. Recent studies have also shown improved performance of GAN-based models for missing value imputation in a multivariate time series dataset compared with traditional imputation methods.

Results

This work proposes DeepMicroGen, a bidirectional recurrent neural network-based GAN model, trained on the temporal relationship between the observations, to impute the missing microbiome samples in longitudinal studies. DeepMicroGen outperforms standard baseline imputation methods, showing the lowest mean absolute error for both simulated and real datasets. Finally, the proposed model improved the predicted clinical outcome for allergies, by providing imputation for an incomplete longitudinal dataset used to train the classifier.

Availability and implementation

DeepMicroGen is publicly available at https://github.com/joungmin-choi/DeepMicroGen.

This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.