Zhang, G., Marvel, S., Truong, L., Tanguay, R.L., Reif, D.M. (2016) Aggregate Entropy Scoring for Quantifying Activity across Endpoints with Irregular Correlation Structure. Reproductive toxicology (Elmsford, N.Y.). 62:92-9.
Robust computational approaches are needed to characterize systems-level responses to chemical perturbations in environmental and clinical toxicology applications. Appropriate characterization of response presents a methodological challenge when dealing with diverse phenotypic endpoints measured using in vivo systems. In this article, we propose an information-theoretic method named Aggregate Entropy (AggE) and apply it to scoring multiplexed, phenotypic endpoints measured in developing zebrafish (Danio rerio) across a broad concentration-response profile for a diverse set of 1,060 chemicals. AggE accurately identified chemicals with significant morphological effects, including single-endpoint effects and multi-endpoint responses that would have been missed by univariate methods, while avoiding putative false-positives that confound traditional methods due to irregular correlation structure. By testing AggE in a variety of high-dimensional real and simulated datasets, we have characterized its performance and suggested implementation parameters that can guide its application across a wide range of experimental scenarios.