Inference of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease with deep learning on raw spirograms identifies new genetic loci and improves risk models

Babak Behsaz
Babak Alipanahi
Zachary Ryan Mccaw
Davin Hill
Tae-Hwi Schwantes-An
Dongbing Lai
Andrew Carroll
Brian Hobbs
Michael Cho
Nature Genetics(2023)


Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), the third leading cause of death worldwide, is highly heritable. While COPD is clinically defined by applying thresholds to summary measures of lung function, a quantitative liability score has more power to identify genetic signals. Here we train a deep convolutional neural network on noisy self-reported and International Classification of Diseases labels to predict COPD case-control status from high-dimensional raw spirograms and use the model's predictions as a liability score. The machine-learning-based (ML-based) liability score accurately discriminates COPD cases and controls, and predicts COPD-related hospitalization without any domain-specific knowledge. Moreover, the ML-based liability score is associated with overall survival and exacerbation events. A genome-wide association study on the ML-based liability score replicates existing COPD and lung function loci and also identifies 67 new loci. Lastly, our method provides a general framework to use ML methods and medical-record-based labels that does not require domain knowledge or expert curation to improve disease prediction and genomic discovery for drug design.