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In BioMed research international ; h5-index 102.0

COVID-19 is hypothesized to be linked to the host's excessive inflammatory immunological response to SARS-CoV-2 infection, which is regarded to be a major factor in disease severity and mortality. Numerous immune cells play a key role in immune response regulation, and gene expression analysis in these cells could be a useful method for studying disease states, assessing immunological responses, and detecting biomarkers. Here, we developed a machine learning procedure to find biomarkers that discriminate disease severity in individual immune cells (B cell, CD4+ cell, CD8+ cell, monocyte, and NK cell) using single-cell gene expression profiles of COVID-19. The gene features of each profile were first filtered and ranked using the Boruta feature selection method and mRMR, and the resulting ranked feature lists were then fed into the incremental feature selection method to determine the optimal number of features with decision tree and random forest algorithms. Meanwhile, we extracted the classification rules in each cell type from the optimal decision tree classifiers. The best gene sets discovered in this study were analyzed by GO and KEGG pathway enrichment, and some important biomarkers like TLR2, ITK, CX3CR1, IL1B, and PRDM1 were validated by recent literature. The findings reveal that the optimal gene sets for each cell type can accurately classify COVID-19 disease severity and provide insight into the molecular mechanisms involved in disease progression.

Chen Lei, Mei Zi, Guo Wei, Ding ShiJian, Huang Tao, Cai Yu-Dong