Predicting Treatment Outcomes Using Explainable Machine Learning in Children with Asthma

Mario Lovrić, Ivana Banić, Emanuel Lacić, Kristina Pavlović, Roman Kern*, Mirjana Turkalj

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Asthma in children is a heterogeneous disease manifested by various phenotypes and endotypes. The level of disease control, as well as the effectiveness of anti-inflammatory treatment, is variable and inadequate in a significant portion of patients. By applying machine learning algorithms, we aimed to predict the treatment success in a pediatric asthma cohort and to identify the key variables for understanding the underlying mechanisms. We predicted the treatment outcomes in children with mild to severe asthma (N = 365), according to changes in asthma control, lung function (FEV1 and MEF50) and FENO values after 6 months of controller medication use, using Random Forest and AdaBoost classifiers. The highest prediction power is achieved for control- and, to a lower extent, for FENO-related treatment outcomes, especially in younger children. The most predictive variables for asthma control are related to asthma severity and the total IgE, which were also predictive for FENO-based outcomes. MEF50-related treatment outcomes were better predicted than the FEV1-based response, and one of the best predictive variables for this response was hsCRP, emphasizing the involvement of the distal airways in childhood asthma. Our results suggest that asthma control- and FENO-based outcomes can be more accurately predicted using machine learning than the outcomes according to FEV1 and MEF50. This supports the symptom control-based asthma management approach and its complementary FENO-guided tool in children. T2-high asthma seemed to respond best to the anti-inflammatory treatment. The results of this study in predicting the treatment success will help to enable treatment optimization and to implement the concept of precision medicine in pediatric asthma treatment.
Original languageEnglish
Article number376
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - 10 May 2021


  • asthma control
  • asthma controller medication
  • childhood asthma
  • machine learning
  • treatment outcome
  • Treatment outcome
  • Asthma control
  • Machine learning
  • Asthma controller medication
  • Childhood asthma

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health


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