Assembling systems biology, embryo development and teratogenesis: What do we know so far and where to go next?

Reprod Toxicol. 2019 Sep;88:67-75. doi: 10.1016/j.reprotox.2019.07.015. Epub 2019 Jul 27.


The recognition of molecular mechanisms of a teratogen can provide insights to understand its embryopathy, and later to plan strategies for the prevention of new exposures. In this context, experimental research is the most invested approach. Despite its relevance, these assays require financial and time investment. Hence, the evaluation of such mechanisms through systems biology rise as an alternative for this conventional methodology. Systems biology is an integrative field that connects experimental and computational analyses, assembling interaction networks between genes, proteins, and even teratogens. It is a valid strategy to generate new hypotheses, that can later be confirmed in experimental assays. Here, we present a literature review of the application of systems biology in embryo development and teratogenesis studies. We provide a glance at the data available in public databases, and evaluate common mechanisms between different teratogens. Finally, we discuss the advantages of using this strategy in future teratogenesis researches.

Keywords: Birth defects; Congenital anomalies; Interactome; Malformation; Network; Teratogen STITCH database; Thalidomide; Zika.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Embryonic Development / drug effects*
  • Humans
  • Systems Biology* / methods
  • Teratogenesis* / drug effects
  • Teratogens / toxicity


  • Teratogens