Integrative Clustering in Mass Spectrometry Imaging for Enhanced Patient Stratification

Benjamin Balluff*, Achim Buck, Marta Martin-Lorenzo, Frederic Dewez, Rupert Langer, Liam A. McDonnell, Axel Walch, Ron M. A. Heeren

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

7 Citations (Web of Science)


Scope In biomedical research, mass spectrometry imaging (MSI) can obtain spatially-resolved molecular information from tissue sections. Especially matrix-assisted laser desorption/ionization (MALDI) MSI offers, depending on the type of matrix, the detection of a broad variety of molecules ranging from metabolites to proteins, thereby facilitating the collection of multilevel molecular data. Lately, integrative clustering techniques have been developed that make use of the complementary information of multilevel molecular data in order to better stratify patient cohorts, but which have not yet been applied in the field of MSI. Materials and Methods In this study, the potential of integrative clustering is investigated for multilevel molecular MSI data to subdivide cancer patients into different prognostic groups. Metabolomic and peptidomic data are obtained by MALDI-MSI from a tissue microarray containing material of 46 esophageal cancer patients. The integrative clustering methods Similarity Network Fusion, iCluster, and moCluster are applied and compared to non-integrated clustering. Conclusion The results show that the combination of multilevel molecular data increases the capability of integrative algorithms to detect patient subgroups with different clinical outcome, compared to the single level or concatenated data. This underlines the potential of multilevel molecular data from the same subject using MSI for subsequent integrative clustering.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1800137
Number of pages5
JournalProteomics Clinical Applications
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2019


  • cancer
  • integrative clustering
  • mass spectrometry imaging
  • prognosis

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