Gene-SGAN: discovering disease subtypes with imaging and genetic signatures via multi-view weakly-supervised deep clustering

Zhijian Yang, Junhao Wen, Ahmed Abdulkadir, Yuhan Cui, Guray Erus, Elizabeth Mamourian, Randa Melhem, Dhivya Srinivasan, Sindhuja T. Govindarajan, Jiong Chen, Mohamad Habes, Colin L. Masters, Paul Maruff, Jurgen Fripp, Luigi Ferrucci, Marilyn S. Albert, Sterling C. Johnson, John C. Morris, Pamela LaMontagne, Daniel S. MarcusTammie L.S. Benzinger, David A. Wolk, Li Shen, Jingxuan Bao, Susan M. Resnick, Haochang Shou, Ilya M. Nasrallah, Christos Davatzikos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Disease heterogeneity has been a critical challenge for precision diagnosis and treatment, especially in neurologic and neuropsychiatric diseases. Many diseases can display multiple distinct brain phenotypes across individuals, potentially reflecting disease subtypes that can be captured using MRI and machine learning methods. However, biological interpretability and treatment relevance are limited if the derived subtypes are not associated with genetic drivers or susceptibility factors. Herein, we describe Gene-SGAN – a multi-view, weakly-supervised deep clustering method – which dissects disease heterogeneity by jointly considering phenotypic and genetic data, thereby conferring genetic correlations to the disease subtypes and associated endophenotypic signatures. We first validate the generalizability, interpretability, and robustness of Gene-SGAN in semi-synthetic experiments. We then demonstrate its application to real multi-site datasets from 28,858 individuals, deriving subtypes of Alzheimer’s disease and brain endophenotypes associated with hypertension, from MRI and single nucleotide polymorphism data. Derived brain phenotypes displayed significant differences in neuroanatomical patterns, genetic determinants, biological and clinical biomarkers, indicating potentially distinct underlying neuropathologic processes, genetic drivers, and susceptibility factors. Overall, Gene-SGAN is broadly applicable to disease subtyping and endophenotype discovery, and is herein tested on disease-related, genetically-associated neuroimaging phenotypes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number354
JournalNature communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2024

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Chemistry
  • General Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology
  • General Physics and Astronomy


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