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Background: Analysis of dynamic metabolomics data holds the promise to improve our understanding of underlying mechanisms in metabolism. For example, it may detect changes in metabolism due to the onset of a disease. Dynamic or time-resolved metabolomics data can be arranged as a three-way array with entries organized according to a subjects mode, a metabolites mode and a time mode. While such time-evolving multiway data sets are increasingly collected, revealing the underlying mechanisms and their dynamics from such data remains challenging. For such data, one of the complexities is the presence of a superposition of several sources of variation: induced variation (due to experimental conditions or inborn errors), individual variation, and measurement error. Multiway data analysis (also known as tensor factorizations) has been successfully used in data mining to find the underlying patterns in multiway data. To explore the performance of multiway data analysis methods in terms of revealing the underlying mechanisms in dynamic metabolomics data, simulated data with known ground truth can be studied. Results: We focus on simulated data arising from different dynamic models of increasing complexity, i.e., a simple linear system, a yeast glycolysis model, and a human cholesterol model. We generate data with induced variation as well as individual variation. Systematic experiments are performed to demonstrate the advantages and limitations of multiway data analysis in analyzing such dynamic metabolomics data and their capacity to disentangle the different sources of variations. We choose to use simulations since we want to understand the capability of multiway data analysis methods which is facilitated by knowing the ground truth. Conclusion: Our numerical experiments demonstrate that despite the increasing complexity of the studied dynamic metabolic models, tensor factorization methods CANDECOMP/PARAFAC(CP) and Parallel Profiles with Linear Dependences (Paralind) can disentangle the sources of variations and thereby reveal the underlying mechanisms and their dynamics.
Li, L., Hoefsloot, H., de Graaf, A. A., Acar, E., & Smilde, A. K. (2022). Exploring dynamic metabolomics data with multiway data analysis: a simulation study. BMC Bioinformatics, 23(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12859-021-04550-5