Integrative Base Ontology for the Research Analysis of Alzheimer's Disease-Related Mild Cognitive Impairment

Front Neuroinform. 2021 Feb 4:15:561691. doi: 10.3389/fninf.2021.561691. eCollection 2021.


Early detection of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) has become a priority in Alzheimer's disease (AD) research, as it is a transitional phase between normal aging and dementia. However, information on MCI and AD is scattered across different formats and standards generated by different technologies, making it difficult to work with them manually. Ontologies have emerged as a solution to this problem due to their capacity for homogenization and consensus in the representation and reuse of data. In this context, an ontology that integrates the four main domains of neurodegenerative diseases, diagnostic tests, cognitive functions, and brain areas will be of great use in research. Here, we introduce the first approach to this ontology, the Neurocognitive Integrated Ontology (NIO), which integrates the knowledge regarding neuropsychological tests (NT), AD, cognitive functions, and brain areas. This ontology enables interoperability and facilitates access to data by integrating dispersed knowledge across different disciplines, rendering it useful for other research groups. To ensure the stability and reusability of NIO, the ontology was developed following the ontology-building life cycle, integrating and expanding terms from four different reference ontologies. The usefulness of this ontology was validated through use-case scenarios.

Keywords: Alzheimer’s disease; MCI; neurodegenerative disease; neuropsychological tests; ontology; ontology design.