During the past decades, many epidemiological, toxicological and biological studies have been performed to assess the role of environmental chemicals as potential toxicants associated with diverse human disorders. However, the relationships between diseases based on chemical exposure rarely have been studied by computational biology. We developed a human environmental disease network (EDN) to explore and suggest novel disease-disease and chemical-disease relationships. The presented scored EDN model is built upon the integration of systems biology and chemical toxicology using information on chemical contaminants and their disease relationships reported in the TDDB database. The resulting human EDN takes into consideration the level of evidence of the toxicant-disease relationships, allowing inclusion of some degrees of significance in the disease-disease associations. Such a network can be used to identify uncharacterized connections between diseases. Examples are discussed for type 2 diabetes (T2D). Additionally, this computational model allows confirmation of already known links between chemicals and diseases (e.g., between bisphenol A and behavioral disorders) and also reveals unexpected associations between chemicals and diseases (e.g., between chlordane and olfactory alteration), thus predicting which chemicals may be risk factors to human health. The proposed human EDN model allows exploration of common biological mechanisms of diseases associated with chemical exposure, helping us to gain insight into disease etiology and comorbidity. This computational approach is an alternative to animal testing supporting the 3R concept.
Keywords: computational method; environmental contaminants; human disease network; predictive toxicology; systems biology.