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Open Access Technical Note

Outlier Detection using Projection Quantile Regression for Mass Spectrometry Data with Low Replication

Soo-Heang Eo, Daewoo Pak, Jeea Choi and HyungJun Cho*

Author Affiliations

Department of Statistics, Korea University, Seoul, Korea

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BMC Research Notes 2012, 5:236  doi:10.1186/1756-0500-5-236

Published: 15 May 2012



Mass spectrometry (MS) data are often generated from various biological or chemical experiments and there may exist outlying observations, which are extreme due to technical reasons. The determination of outlying observations is important in the analysis of replicated MS data because elaborate pre-processing is essential for successful analysis with reliable results and manual outlier detection as one of pre-processing steps is time-consuming. The heterogeneity of variability and low replication are often obstacles to successful analysis, including outlier detection. Existing approaches, which assume constant variability, can generate many false positives (outliers) and/or false negatives (non-outliers). Thus, a more powerful and accurate approach is needed to account for the heterogeneity of variability and low replication.


We proposed an outlier detection algorithm using projection and quantile regression in MS data from multiple experiments. The performance of the algorithm and program was demonstrated by using both simulated and real-life data. The projection approach with linear, nonlinear, or nonparametric quantile regression was appropriate in heterogeneous high-throughput data with low replication.


Various quantile regression approaches combined with projection were proposed for detecting outliers. The choice among linear, nonlinear, and nonparametric regressions is dependent on the degree of heterogeneity of the data. The proposed approach was illustrated with MS data with two or more replicates.