ADO: a disease ontology representing the domain knowledge specific to Alzheimer's disease

Alzheimers Dement. 2014 Mar;10(2):238-46. doi: 10.1016/j.jalz.2013.02.009. Epub 2013 Jul 3.


Background: Biomedical ontologies offer the capability to structure and represent domain-specific knowledge semantically. Disease-specific ontologies can facilitate knowledge exchange across multiple disciplines, and ontology-driven mining approaches can generate great value for modeling disease mechanisms. However, in the case of neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease, there is a lack of formal representation of the relevant knowledge domain.

Methods: Alzheimer's disease ontology (ADO) is constructed in accordance to the ontology building life cycle. The Protégé OWL editor was used as a tool for building ADO in Ontology Web Language format.

Results: ADO was developed with the purpose of containing information relevant to four main biological views-preclinical, clinical, etiological, and molecular/cellular mechanisms-and was enriched by adding synonyms and references. Validation of the lexicalized ontology by means of named entity recognition-based methods showed a satisfactory performance (F score = 72%). In addition to structural and functional evaluation, a clinical expert in the field performed a manual evaluation and curation of ADO. Through integration of ADO into an information retrieval environment, we show that the ontology supports semantic search in scientific text. The usefulness of ADO is authenticated by dedicated use case scenarios.

Conclusions: Development of ADO as an open ADO is a first attempt to organize information related to Alzheimer's disease in a formalized, structured manner. We demonstrate that ADO is able to capture both established and scattered knowledge existing in scientific text.

Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; Alzheimer's disease ontology; Neurodegeneration; Neurodegenerative diseases; Ontology; Semantic Web.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease*
  • Computational Biology
  • Humans
  • Information Storage and Retrieval*
  • Models, Biological*