Objective: Cytokines play a central role in both health and disease, modulating immune responses and acting as diagnostic markers and therapeutic targets. This work takes a systems-level approach for integration and examination of immune patterns, such as cytokine gene expression with information from biomedical literature, and applies it in the context of disease, with the objective of identifying potentially useful relationships and areas for future research.
Results: We present herein the integration and analysis of immune-related knowledge, namely, information derived from biomedical literature and gene expression arrays. Cytokine-disease associations were captured from over 2.4 million PubMed records, in the form of Medical Subject Headings descriptor co-occurrences, as well as from gene expression arrays. Clustering of cytokine-disease co-occurrences from biomedical literature is shown to reflect current medical knowledge as well as potentially novel relationships between diseases. A correlation analysis of cytokine gene expression in a variety of diseases revealed compelling relationships. Finally, a novel analysis comparing cytokine gene expression in different diseases to parallel associations captured from the biomedical literature was used to examine which associations are interesting for further investigation.
Discussion: We demonstrate the usefulness of capturing Medical Subject Headings descriptor co-occurrences from biomedical publications in the generation of valid and potentially useful hypotheses. Furthermore, integrating and comparing descriptor co-occurrences with gene expression data was shown to be useful in detecting new, potentially fruitful, and unaddressed areas of research.
Conclusion: Using integrated large-scale data captured from the scientific literature and experimental data, a better understanding of the immune mechanisms underlying disease can be achieved and applied to research.
Keywords: MeSH; cytokines; data integration; disease; expression.
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