Article

A composite likelihood approach to the analysis of longitudinal clonal data on multitype cellular systems under an age-dependent branching process.

Department of Biostatistics and Computational Biology, University of Rochester Medical Center, 601 Elmwood Avenue, Rochester, NY 14642, USA.
Biostatistics (Impact Factor: 2.24). 01/2011; 12(1):173-91. DOI: 10.1093/biostatistics/kxq050
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT A recurrent statistical problem in cell biology is to draw inference about cell kinetics from observations collected at discrete time points. We investigate this problem when multiple cell clones are observed longitudinally over time. The theory of age-dependent branching processes provides an appealing framework for the quantitative analysis of such data. Likelihood inference being difficult in this context, we propose an alternative composite likelihood approach, where the estimation function is defined from the marginal or conditional distributions of the number of cells of each observable cell type. These distributions have generally no closed-form expressions but they can be approximated using simulations. We construct a bias-corrected version of the estimating function, which also offers computational advantages. Two algorithms are discussed to compute parameter estimates. Large sample properties of the estimator are presented. The performance of the proposed method in finite samples is investigated in simulation studies. An application to the analysis of the generation of oligodendrocytes from oligodendrocyte type-2 astrocyte progenitor cells cultured in vitro reveals the effect of neurothrophin-3 on these cells. Our work demonstrates also that the proposed approach outperforms the existing ones.

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