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Estimation of dynamical model parameters taking into account undetectable marker values.

Abstract : BACKGROUND: Mathematical models are widely used for studying the dynamic of infectious agents such as hepatitis C virus (HCV). Most often, model parameters are estimated using standard least-square procedures for each individual. Hierarchical models have been proposed in such applications. However, another issue is the left-censoring (undetectable values) of plasma viral load due to the lack of sensitivity of assays used for quantification. A method is proposed to take into account left-censored values for estimating parameters of non linear mixed models and its impact is demonstrated through a simulation study and an actual clinical trial of anti-HCV drugs. METHODS: The method consists in a full likelihood approach distinguishing the contribution of observed and left-censored measurements assuming a lognormal distribution of the outcome. Parameters of analytical solution of system of differential equations taking into account left-censoring are estimated using standard software. RESULTS: A simulation study with only 14% of measurements being left-censored showed that model parameters were largely biased (from -55% to +133% according to the parameter) with the exception of the estimate of initial outcome value when left-censored viral load values are replaced by the value of the threshold. When left-censoring was taken into account, the relative bias on fixed effects was equal or less than 2%. Then, parameters were estimated using the 100 measurements of HCV RNA available (with 12% of left-censored values) during the first 4 weeks following treatment initiation in the 17 patients included in the trial. Differences between estimates according to the method used were clinically significant, particularly on the death rate of infected cells. With the crude approach the estimate was 0.13 day-1 (95% confidence interval [CI]: 0.11; 0.17) compared to 0.19 day-1 (CI: 0.14; 0.26) when taking into account left-censoring. The relative differences between estimates of individual treatment efficacy according to the method used varied from 0.001% to 37%. CONCLUSION: We proposed a method that gives unbiased estimates if the assumed distribution is correct (e.g. lognormal) and that is easy to use with standard software.
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Contributor : Helene Jacqmin-Gadda <>
Submitted on : Tuesday, September 26, 2006 - 4:31:47 PM
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Rodolphe Thiébaut, Jérémie Guedj, Hélène Jacqmin-Gadda, Geneviève Chêne, Pascale Trimoulet, et al.. Estimation of dynamical model parameters taking into account undetectable marker values.. BMC Medical Research Methodology, BioMed Central, 2006, 6, pp.38. ⟨10.1186/1471-2288-6-38⟩. ⟨inserm-00101223⟩



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