The application of partial least squares (PLS) regression to visible–near-infrared (VIS-NIR) spectroscopy for modeling important blood and tissue parameters is generally complicated by the variation in skin pigmentation (melanin) across the human population. An orthogonal correction method for removing the influence of skin pigmentation has been demonstrated in diffuse reflectance spectra from two-layer tissue-mimicking phantoms. The absorption properties of the phantoms were defined by lyophilized human hemoglobin (bottom layer) and synthetic melanin (top layer). Tissue-like scattering was simulated in both layers with intralipid™. The approach uses principal components analysis (PCA) loading vectors from a separate set of phantom spectra that encode the unwanted melanin variation to remove the effect of melanin from the test phantoms. The preprocessing of phantom spectra using this orthogonal correction method resulted in PLS models with reduced complexity and enhanced prediction performance. Preliminary results from a separate study that evaluates the feasibility of defining skin color variation in an experiment with a single human subject are also presented.

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