The inflammatory response, and its subsequent resolution, are the result of a very complex cascade of events originating at the site of injury or infection. When the response is severe and persistent, Systemic Inflammatory Response Syndrome can set in, which is associated with a severely debilitating systemic hypercatabolic state. This complex behavior, mediated by cytokines and chemokines, needs to be further explored to better understand its systems properties and potentially identify multiple targets that could be addressed simultaneously. In this context, short term responses of serum cytokines and chemokines were analyzed in two types of insults: rats receiving a “sterile” cutaneous dorsal burn on 20% of the total body surface area (TBSA); rats receiving a cecum ligation and puncture treatment (CLP) to induce infection. Considering the temporal variability observed in the baseline corresponding to the control group, the concept of area under the curve (AUC) was explored to assess the dynamic responses of cytokines and chemokines. MCP-1, GROK/KC, IL-12, IL-18 and IL-10 were observed in both burn and CLP groups. While IL-10 concentration was only increased in the burn group, Eotaxin was only elevated in CLP group. It was also observed that Leptin and IP-1 concentrations were decreased in both CLP and sham-CLP groups. The link between the circulating protein mediators and putative transcription factors regulating the cytokine/chemokine gene expression was explored by searching the promoter regions of cytokine/chemokine genes in order to characterize and differentiate the inflammatory responses based on the dynamic data. Integrating multiple sources together with the bioinformatics tools identified mediators sensitive to type and extent of injury, and provided putative regulatory mechanisms. This is essential to gain a better understanding for the important regulatory points that can be used to modulate the inflammatory state at molecular level.
Cytokines; Chemokines; Burn injury; Cecum ligation and puncture
The systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) often accompanies critical illnesses and can be an important cause of morbidity and mortality. Marked abnormalities in cardiovascular function accompany acute illnesses manifested as sustained tachyarrhythmias which are but one component of systemic dysregulation. The realization that cardiac pacemaker activity is under control of the autonomic nervous system has promoted the analysis of heart rate variation for assessing autonomic activities. In acute illnesses, autonomic imbalance manifesting in part as parasympathetic attenuation is associated with increased morbidity in patients who manifest SIRS phenotype. Driven by the premise that biological phenotypes emerge as the outcome of the coordinated action of network elements across the host, a multiscale model of human endotoxemia, as a prototype model of systemic inflammation in humans, is developed that quantifies critical aspects of the complex relationship between inflammation and autonomic heart rate regulation. In the present study, changes in heart rate response to acute injury, phenotypically expressed as tachycardia, are simulated as a result of autonomic imbalance that reflects sympathetic activity excess and parasympathetic attenuation. The proposed model assesses both the anti-inflammatory and cardiovascular effects of antecedent stresses upon the systemic inflammatory manifestations of human endotoxemia as well as a series of non-linear inflammatory relevant scenarios. Such a modeling approach provides a comprehensive conceptual framework linking inflammation and physiological complexity via a multiscale model that may advance the translational potential of systems modeling in clinical research.
mathematical modeling; infection; humans; inflammation; autonomic nervous system; heart
Severe burns are among the most common causes of death from unintentional injury. The induction and resolution of the burn-induced systemic inflammatory response are mediated by a network of factors and regulatory proteins. Numerous mechanisms operate simultaneously, thus requiring a systems level approach to characterize their overall impact. Towards this goal, we propose an in silico semi-mechanistic model of burn-induced systemic inflammation using liver specific gene expression from a rat burn model. Transcriptional responses are coupled with extracellular signals through a receptor mediated indirect response (IDR) and transit compartment model. The activation of the innate immune system in response to the burn stimulus involves the interaction between extracellular signals and critical receptors which triggers downstream signal transduction cascades leading to transcriptional changes. The resulting model consists of fifteen (15) coupled ordinary differential equations capturing key aspects of inflammation such as pro-inflammation, anti-inflammation and hypermetabolism. The model was then evaluated through a series of biologically relevant scenarios aiming at revealing the non-linear behavior of acute inflammation including: investigating the implication of effect of different severity of thermal injury; examining possible mechanistic dysregulation of IKK-NFκB system which may reflect secondary effects that lead to potential malfunction of the response; and exploring the outcome of administration of receptor antagonist or anti-body to significant cytokines.
thermal injury; trauma; inflammation; hypermetabolism; modeling; liver; rat
Liver metabolism is altered after systemic injuries such as burns and trauma. These changes have been elucidated in rat models of experimental burn injury where the liver was isolated and perfused ex vivo. Because these studies were performed in fasted animals to deplete glycogen stores, thus simplifying quantification of gluconeogenesis, these observations reflect the combined impact of fasting and injury on liver metabolism. Herein we asked whether the metabolic response to experimental burn injury is different in fed vs. fasted animals. Rats were subjected to a cutaneous burn covering 20% of the total body surface area, or to similar procedures without administering the burn, hence a sham-burn. Half of the animals in the burn and sham-burn groups were fasted starting on postburn day 3, and the others allowed to continue ad libitum. On postburn day 4, livers were isolated and perfused for 1 hour in physiological medium supplemented with 10% hematocrit red blood cells. The uptake/release rates of major carbon and nitrogen sources, oxygen, and carbon dioxide were measured during the perfusion and the data fed into a mass balance model to estimate intracellular fluxes. The data show that in fed animals, injury increased glucose output mainly from glycogen breakdown and minimally impacted amino acid metabolism. In fasted animals, injury did not increase glucose output but increased urea production and the uptake of several amino acids, namely glutamine, arginine, glycine, and methionine. Furthermore, sham-burn animals responded to fasting by triggering gluconeogenesis from lactate; however, in burned animals the preferred gluconeogenic substrate was amino acids. Taken together, these results suggest that the fed state prevents the burn-induced increase in hepatic amino acid utilization for gluconeogenesis. The role of glycogen stores and means to increase and/or maintain internal sources of glucose to prevent increased hepatic amino acid utilization warrant further studies.
As cellular variability and circadian rhythmicity play critical roles in immune and inflammatory responses, we present in this study an agent-based model of human endotoxemia to examine the interplay between circadian controls, cellular variability and stochastic dynamics of inflammatory cytokines. The model is qualitatively validated by its ability to reproduce circadian dynamics of inflammatory mediators and critical inflammatory responses after endotoxin administration in vivo. Novel computational concepts are proposed to characterize the cellular variability and synchronization of inflammatory cytokines in a population of heterogeneous leukocytes. Our results suggest that there is a decrease in cell-to-cell variability of inflammatory cytokines while their synchronization is increased after endotoxin challenge. Model parameters that are responsible for IκB production stimulated by NFκB activation and for the production of anti-inflammatory cytokines have large impacts on system behaviors. Additionally, examining time-dependent systemic responses revealed that the system is least vulnerable to endotoxin in the early morning and most vulnerable around midnight. Although much remains to be explored, proposed computational concepts and the model we have pioneered will provide important insights for future investigations and extensions, especially for single-cell studies to discover how cellular variability contributes to clinical implications.
Previously, we have shown that systemic insults in single injury models produced immunosuppressive effects in burn, and a strong acute phase response in sepsis through hepatic gene expression. In order to investigate the implications of these effects on a combined injury, a double hit model was explored to mimic the progression of clinical burn-sepsis. Rodents were subjected to a 20% total body surface area (TSA) full-thickness burn injury, and 48 hours later underwent cecal ligation and puncture (CLP) to induce sepsis. Pathways related to innate immune signaling through cytokines and NF-KB were co regulated with xenobiotic metabolism genes and acute phase protein genes, and that these genes were suppressed early, and then activated. Furthermore, we were able to identify that, in addition to amino acid metabolism, pyruvate metabolism, fatty acid metabolism and NRF-2 mediated oxidative stress genes were down regulated over the time course. Overall, these observed trends within the double hit burn-sepsis model represent unique immune and metabolic pathways and dynamics not found in either injury, including an early suppression followed by overreaction of pro inflammatory mediators, and an increase in amino acid metabolism at the expense of central carbon pathways.
Sepsis; burns; microarray analysis; RT-PCR analysis; liver
Isolated liver perfusion systems have been used to characterize intrinsic metabolic changes in liver as a result of various perturbations, including systemic injury, hepatotoxin exposure, and warm ischemia. Most of these studies were done using hyperoxic conditions (95% O2) but without the use of oxygen carriers in the perfusate. Prior literature data do not clearly establish the impact of oxygenation, and in particular that of adding oxygen carriers to the perfusate, on the metabolic functions of the liver. Therefore, herein the effects of oxygen delivery in the perfusion system on liver metabolism were investigated by comparing three modes of oxygenation. Rat livers were perfused via the portal and hepatic veins at a constant flow rate of 3 mL/min/g liver in a recirculating perfusion system. In the first group, the perfusate was equilibrated in a membrane oxygenator with room air (21% O2) before entering the liver. In the second group, the perfusate was equilibrated with a 95% O2/5% CO2 gas mixture. In the third group, the perfusate was supplemented with washed bovine red blood cells (RBCs) at 10% hematocrit and also equilibrated with the 95% O2/5% CO2 gas mixture. Oxygen and CO2 gradients across the liver were measured periodically with a blood gas analyzer. The rate of change in the concentration of major metabolites in the perfusate was measured over time. Net extracellular fluxes were calculated from these measurements and applied to a stoichiometric-based optimization problem to determine the intracellular fluxes and active pathways in the perfused livers. Livers perfused with RBCs consumed oxygen at twice the rate observed using hyperoxic (95% O2) perfusate without RBCs, and also produced more urea and ketone bodies. At the flow rate used, the oxygen supply in perfusate without RBCs was just sufficient to meet the average oxygen demand of the liver but would be insufficient if it increased above baseline, as is often the case in response to environmental perturbations. Metabolic pathway analysis suggests that significant anaerobic glycolysis occurred in the absence of RBCs even using hyperoxic perfusate. Conversely, when RBCs were used, glucose production from lactate and glutamate, as well as pathways related to energy metabolism were upregulated. RBCs also reversed an increase in PPP fluxes induced by the use of hyperoxic perfusate alone. In conclusion, the use of oxygen carriers is required to investigate the effect of various perturbations on liver metabolism.
liver; perfusion; oxygenation; metabolism; flux balance analysis
Severe burn trauma is generally associated with bacterial infections, which causes a more persistent inflammatory response with an ongoing hypermetabolic and catabolic state. This complex biological response, mediated by chemokines and cytokines, can be more severe when excessive interactions between the mediators take place. In this study, the early inflammatory response following the cecum ligation and puncture (CLP) or its corresponding control treatment (sham-CLP or SCLP) in burn (B) male rats was analyzed by measuring 23 different cytokines and chemokines. Cytokines and chemokines, including MCP-1, IP-10, Leptin, TNF-α, MIP-1α, IL-18, GMCSF, RANTES and GCSF were significantly altered in both B+CLP and B+SCLP groups. IL-10 and IL-6 were significantly up-regulated in the B+CLP group when compared to the B+SCLP group. Down regulation of Leptin and IP-10 concentrations were found to be related to surgery and/or infection. IL-18 and MCP-1 were elevated in all groups including previously published single injury models receiving similar treatments. In this study, insult-specific mediators with their characteristic temporal patterns were elucidated in double hit models.
Cytokines; Chemokines; Double-hit injury models; Burn injury; Cecum ligation and puncture
A key ingredient to modern data analysis is probability density estimation. However, it is well known that the curse of dimensionality prevents a proper estimation of densities in high dimensions. The problem is typically circumvented by using a fixed set of assumptions about the data, e.g., by assuming partial independence of features, data on a manifold or a customized kernel. These fixed assumptions limit the applicability of a method. In this paper we propose a framework that uses a flexible set of assumptions instead. It allows to tailor a model to various problems by means of 1d-decompositions. The approach achieves a fast runtime and is not limited by the curse of dimensionality as all estimations are performed in 1d-space. The wide range of applications is demonstrated at two very different real world examples. The first is a data mining software that allows the fully automatic discovery of patterns. The software is publicly available for evaluation. As a second example an image segmentation method is realized. It achieves state of the art performance on a benchmark dataset although it uses only a fraction of the training data and very simple features.
Acute inflammation leads to organ failure by engaging catastrophic feedback loops in which stressed tissue evokes an inflammatory response and, in turn, inflammation damages tissue. Manifestations of this maladaptive inflammatory response include cardio-respiratory dysfunction that may be reflected in reduced heart rate and ventilatory pattern variabilities. We have developed signal-processing algorithms that quantify non-linear deterministic characteristics of variability in biologic signals. Now, coalescing under the aegis of the NIH Computational Biology Program and the Society for Complexity in Acute Illness, two research teams performed iterative experiments and computational modeling on inflammation and cardio-pulmonary dysfunction in sepsis as well as on neural control of respiration and ventilatory pattern variability. These teams, with additional collaborators, have recently formed a multi-institutional, interdisciplinary consortium, whose goal is to delineate the fundamental interrelationship between the inflammatory response and physiologic variability. Multi-scale mathematical modeling and complementary physiological experiments will provide insight into autonomic neural mechanisms that may modulate the inflammatory response to sepsis and simultaneously reduce heart rate and ventilatory pattern variabilities associated with sepsis. This approach integrates computational models of neural control of breathing and cardio-respiratory coupling with models that combine inflammation, cardiovascular function, and heart rate variability. The resulting integrated model will provide mechanistic explanations for the phenomena of respiratory sinus-arrhythmia and cardio-ventilatory coupling observed under normal conditions, and the loss of these properties during sepsis. This approach holds the potential of modeling cross-scale physiological interactions to improve both basic knowledge and clinical management of acute inflammatory diseases such as sepsis and trauma.
mathematical model; inflammation; physiologic variability; heart rate variability; neural control
Pathway analysis is a useful tool which reveals important metabolic network properties. However, the big challenge is to propose an objective function for estimating active pathways which represent the actual state of network. In order to provide weight values for all possible pathways within the metabolic network, this study presents different approaches, considering the structural and physiological properties of metabolic network, aiming at a unique decomposition of the flux vector into pathways. These methods were used to analyze the hepatic metabolism considering available data sets obtained from perfused livers of fasted rats receiving burn injury. Utilizing unique decomposition techniques and different fluxes revealed that higher weights were always attributed to short pathways. Specific pathways including pyruvate, glutamate and oxaloacetate pools, and urea production from arginine were found to be important or essential in all methods and experimental conditions. Moreover, the pathways including serine production from glycine and conversion between acetoacetate and B-OH-butyrate were assigned higher weights. Pathway analysis was also used to identify the main sources for the production of certain products in the hepatic metabolic network to gain a better understanding of the effects of burn injury on liver metabolism.
Pathway analysis; Liver metabolism; Burn injury
The objective of identifying transcriptional regulatory networks is to provide insights as to what governs an organism’s long term response to external stimuli. We explore the coupling of the living cell array (LCA), a novel microfluidics device which utilizes fluorescence levels as a surrogate for transcription factor activity with reverse Euler deconvolution (RED) a computational technique proposed in this work to decipher the dynamics of the interactions. It is hypothesized that these two methods will allow us to first assess the underlying network architecture associated with the transcription factor network as well as specific mechanistic consequences of transcription factor activation such as receptor dimerization or tolerance.
The overall approach identifies evidence of time-lagged response which may be indicative of mechanisms such as receptor dimerization, tolerance mechanisms which are evidence of various receptor mediated dynamics, and feedback loops which regulate the response of an organism to changing environmental conditions. Furthermore, through the exploration of multiple network architectures, we were able to obtain insights as to the role each transcription factor plays in the overall response and their overall redundancy in the organism’s response to external perturbations. Thus, the LCA along with the proposed analysis technique is a valuable tool for identifying the possible architectures and mechanisms underlying the transcriptional response.
Systems biology; Network reconstruction
A mathematical model of interstitial fluid flow is developed, based on the application of the governing equations for fluid flow, i.e., the conservation laws for mass and momentum, to physiological systems containing solid tumors. The discretized form of the governing equations, with appropriate boundary conditions, is developed for a predefined tumor geometry. The interstitial fluid pressure and velocity are calculated using a numerical method, element based finite volume. Simulations of interstitial fluid transport in a homogeneous solid tumor demonstrate that, in a uniformly perfused tumor, i.e., one with no necrotic region, because of the interstitial pressure distribution, the distribution of drug particles is non-uniform. Pressure distribution for different values of necrotic radii is examined and two new parameters, the critical tumor radius and critical necrotic radius, are defined. Simulation results show that: 1) tumor radii have a critical size. Below this size, the maximum interstitial fluid pressure is less than what is generally considered to be effective pressure (a parameter determined by vascular pressure, plasma osmotic pressure, and interstitial osmotic pressure). Above this size, the maximum interstitial fluid pressure is equal to effective pressure. As a consequence, drugs transport to the center of smaller tumors is much easier than transport to the center of a tumor whose radius is greater than the critical tumor radius; 2) there is a critical necrotic radius, below which the interstitial fluid pressure at the tumor center is at its maximum value. If the tumor radius is greater than the critical tumor radius, this maximum pressure is equal to effective pressure. Above this critical necrotic radius, the interstitial fluid pressure at the tumor center is below effective pressure. In specific ranges of these critical sizes, drug amount and therefore therapeutic effects are higher because the opposing force, interstitial fluid pressure, is low in these ranges.
Microarray experiments generate massive amounts of data, necessitating innovative algorithms to distinguish biologically relevant information from noise. Because the variability of gene expression data is an important factor in determining which genes are differentially expressed, analysis techniques that take into account repeated measurements are critically important. Additionally, the selection of informative genes is typically done by searching for the individual genes that vary the most across conditions. Yet because genes tend to act in groups rather than individually, it may be possible to glean more information from the data by searching specifically for concerted behavior in a set of genes. Applying a symbolic transformation to the gene expression data allows the detection overrepresented patterns in the data, in contrast to looking only for genes that exhibit maximal differential expression. These challenges are approached by introducing an algorithm based on a new symbolic representation that searches for concerted gene expression patterns; furthermore, the symbolic representation takes into account the variance in multiple replicates and can be applied to long time series data. The proposed algorithm's ability to discover biologically relevant signals in gene expression data is exhibited by applying it to three datasets that measure gene expression in the rat liver.
One of the great challenges in the post-genomic era is to decipher the underlying principles governing the dynamics of biological responses. As modulating gene expression levels is among the key regulatory responses of an organism to changes in its environment, identifying biologically relevant transcriptional regulators and their putative regulatory interactions with target genes is an essential step towards studying the complex dynamics of transcriptional regulation. We present an analysis that integrates various computational and biological aspects to explore the transcriptional regulation of systemic inflammatory responses through a human endotoxemia model. Given a high-dimensional transcriptional profiling dataset from human blood leukocytes, an elementary set of temporal dynamic responses which capture the essence of a pro-inflammatory phase, a counter-regulatory response and a dysregulation in leukocyte bioenergetics has been extracted. Upon identification of these expression patterns, fourteen inflammation-specific gene batteries that represent groups of hypothetically ‘coregulated’ genes are proposed. Subsequently, statistically significant cis-regulatory modules (CRMs) are identified and decomposed into a list of critical transcription factors (34) that are validated largely on primary literature. Finally, our analysis further allows for the construction of a dynamic representation of the temporal transcriptional regulatory program across the host, deciphering possible combinatorial interactions among factors under which they might be active. Although much remains to be explored, this study has computationally identified key transcription factors and proposed a putative time-dependent transcriptional regulatory program associated with critical transcriptional inflammatory responses. These results provide a solid foundation for future investigations to elucidate the underlying transcriptional regulatory mechanisms under the host inflammatory response. Also, the assumption that coexpressed genes that are functionally relevant are more likely to share some common transcriptional regulatory mechanism seems to be promising, making the proposed framework become essential in unravelling context-specific transcriptional regulatory interactions underlying diverse mammalian biological processes.
Differentiation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells (OPCs) into mature oligodendrocytes requires extensive changes in gene expression, which are partly mediated by post-translational modifications of nucleosomal histones. An essential modification for oligodendrocyte differentiation is the removal of acetyl groups from lysine residues which is catalyzed by histone deacetylases (HDACs). The transcriptional targets of HDAC activity within OPCs however, have remained elusive and have been identified in this study by interrogating the oligodendrocyte transcriptome. Using a novel algorithm that allows clustering of gene transcripts according to expression kinetics and expression levels, we defined major waves of co-regulated genes. The initial overall decrease in gene expression was followed by the up-regulation of genes involved in lipid metabolism and myelination. Functional annotation of the down-regulated gene clusters identified transcripts involved in cell cycle regulation, transcription, and RNA processing. To define whether these genes were the targets of HDAC activity, we cultured rat OPCs in the presence of trichostatin A (TSA), an HDAC inhibitor previously shown to inhibit oligodendrocyte differentiation. By overlaying the defined oligodendrocyte transcriptome with the list of ‘TSA sensitive’ genes, we determined that a high percentage of ‘TSA sensitive’ genes are part of a normal program of oligodendrocyte differentiation. TSA treatment increased the expression of genes whose down-regulation occurs very early after induction of OPC differentiation, but did not affect the expression of genes with a slower kinetic. Among the increased ‘TSA sensitive’ genes we detected several transcription factors including Id2, Egr1, and Sox11, whose down-regulation is critical for OPC differentiation. Thus, HDAC target genes include clusters of co-regulated genes involved in transcriptional repression. These results support a de-repression model of oligodendrocyte lineage progression that relies on the concurrent down-regulation of several inhibitors of differentiation.
This review summarizes some of the recent developments and identifies critical challenges associated with in vitro and in silico representations of the liver and assesses the translational potential of these models in the quest of rationalizing the process of evaluating drug efficacy and toxicity. It discusses a wide range of research efforts that have produced, during recent years, quantitative descriptions and conceptual as well as computational models of hepatic processes such as biotransport and biotransformation, intra- and intercellular signal transduction, detoxification, etc. The abovementioned research efforts cover multiple scales of biological organization, from molecule–molecule interactions to reaction network and cellular and histological dynamics, and have resulted in a rapidly evolving knowledge base for a “systems biology of the liver.” Virtual organ/organism formulations represent integrative implementations of particular elements of this knowledge base, usually oriented toward the study of specific biological endpoints, and provide frameworks for translating the systems biology concepts into computational tools for quantitative prediction of responses to stressors and hypothesis generation for experimental design.
model; virtual liver; toxicity
Sulfur mustard (HD, SM), is a chemical warfare agent that within hours causes extensive blistering at the dermal–epidermal junction of skin. To better understand the progression of SM-induced blistering, gene expression profiling for mouse skin was performed after a single high dose of SM exposure. Punch biopsies of mouse ears were collected at both early and late time periods following SM exposure (previous studies only considered early time periods). The biopsies were examined for pathological disturbances and the samples further assayed for gene expression profiling using the Affymetrix microarray analysis system. Principal component analysis and hierarchical cluster analysis of the differently expressed genes, performed with ArrayTrack showed clear separation of the various groups. Pathway analysis employing the KEGG library and Ingenuity Pathway Analysis (IPA) indicated that cytokine–cytokine receptor interaction, cell adhesion molecules (CAMs), and hematopoietic cell lineage are common pathways affected at different time points. Gene ontology analysis identified the most significantly altered biological processes as the immune response, inflammatory response, and chemotaxis; these findings are consistent with other reported results for shorter time periods. Selected genes were chosen for RT-PCR verification and showed correlations in the general trends for the microarrays. Interleukin 1 beta was checked for biological analysis to confirm the presence of protein correlated to the corresponding microarray data. The impact of a matrix metalloproteinase inhibitor, MMP-2/MMP-9 inhibitor I, against SM exposure was assessed. These results can help in understanding the molecular mechanism of SM-induced blistering, as well as to test the efficacy of different inhibitors.
Vesicant; Sulfur mustard; Microarray; Alkylating agent; Skin; MMP inhibitor; MMP; Matrix metalloproteinase
Circadian rhythms are 24 hour oscillations in many behavioural, physiological, cellular and molecular processes that are controlled by an endogenous clock which is entrained to environmental factors including light, food and stress. Transcriptional analyses of circadian patterns demonstrate that genes showing circadian rhythms are part of a wide variety of biological pathways.
Pathway activity method can identify the significant pattern of the gene expression levels within a pathway. In this method, the overall gene expression levels are translated to a reduced form, pathway activity levels, via singular value decomposition (SVD). A given pathway represented by pathway activity levels can then be as analyzed using the same approaches used for analyzing gene expression levels. We propose to use pathway activity method across time to identify underlying circadian pattern of pathways.
We used synthetic data to demonstrate that pathway activity analysis can evaluate the underlying circadian pattern within a pathway even when circadian patterns cannot be captured by the individual gene expression levels. In addition, we illustrated that pathway activity formulation should be coupled with a significance analysis to distinguish biologically significant information from random deviations. Next, we performed pathway activity level analysis on a rich time series of transcriptional profiling in rat liver. The over-represented five specific patterns of pathway activity levels, which cannot be explained by random event, exhibited circadian rhythms. The identification of the circadian signatures at the pathway level identified 78 pathways related to energy metabolism, amino acid metabolism, lipid metabolism and DNA replication and protein synthesis, which are biologically relevant in rat liver. Further, we observed tight coordination between cholesterol biosynthesis and bile acid biosynthesis as well as between folate biosynthesis, one carbon pool by folate and purine-pyrimidine metabolism. These coupled pathways are parts of a sequential reaction series where the product of one pathway is the substrate of another pathway.
Rather than assessing the importance of a single gene beforehand and map these genes onto pathways, we instead examined the orchestrated change within a pathway. Pathway activity level analysis could reveal the underlying circadian dynamics in the microarray data with an unsupervised approach and biologically relevant results were obtained.
Comprehensively understanding corticosteroid pharmacogenomic effects is an essential step towards an insight into the underlying molecular mechanisms for both beneficial and detrimental clinical effects. Nevertheless, even in a single tissue different methods of corticosteroid administration can induce different patterns of expression and regulatory control structures. Therefore, rich in vivo datasets of pharmacological time-series with two dosing regimens sampled from rat liver are examined for temporal patterns of changes in gene expression and their regulatory commonalities.
The study addresses two issues, including (1) identifying significant transcriptional modules coupled with dynamic expression patterns and (2) predicting relevant common transcriptional controls to better understand the underlying mechanisms of corticosteroid adverse effects. Following the orientation of meta-analysis, an extended computational approach that explores the concept of agreement matrix from consensus clustering has been proposed with the aims of identifying gene clusters that share common expression patterns across multiple dosing regimens as well as handling challenges in the analysis of microarray data from heterogeneous sources, e.g. different platforms and time-grids in this study. Six significant transcriptional modules coupled with typical patterns of expression have been identified. Functional analysis reveals that virtually all enriched functions (gene ontologies, pathways) in these modules are shown to be related to metabolic processes, implying the importance of these modules in adverse effects under the administration of corticosteroids. Relevant putative transcriptional regulators (e.g. RXRF, FKHD, SP1F) are also predicted to provide another source of information towards better understanding the complexities of expression patterns and the underlying regulatory mechanisms of those modules.
We have proposed a framework to identify significant coexpressed clusters of genes across multiple conditions experimented from different microarray platforms, time-grids, and also tissues if applicable. Analysis on rich in vivo datasets of corticosteroid time-series yielded significant insights into the pharmacogenomic effects of corticosteroids, especially the relevance to metabolic side-effects. This has been illustrated through enriched metabolic functions in those transcriptional modules and the presence of GRE binding motifs in those enriched pathways, providing significant modules for further analysis on pharmacogenomic corticosteroid effects.
Microarray technology is a powerful and widely accepted experimental technique in molecular biology that allows studying genome wide transcriptional responses. However, experimental data usually contain potential sources of uncertainty and thus many experiments are now designed with repeated measurements to better assess such inherent variability. Many computational methods have been proposed to account for the variability in replicates. As yet, there is no model to output expression profiles accounting for replicate information so that a variety of computational models that take the expression profiles as the input data can explore this information without any modification.
We propose a methodology which integrates replicate variability into expression profiles, to generate so-called 'true' expression profiles. The study addresses two issues: (i) develop a statistical model that can estimate 'true' expression profiles which are more robust than the average profile, and (ii) extend our previous micro-clustering which was designed specifically for clustering time-series expression data. The model utilizes a previously proposed error model and the concept of 'relative difference'. The clustering effectiveness is demonstrated through synthetic data where several methods are compared. We subsequently analyze in vivo rat data to elucidate circadian transcriptional dynamics as well as liver-specific corticosteroid induced changes in gene expression.
We have proposed a model which integrates the error information from repeated measurements into the expression profiles. Through numerous synthetic and real time-series data, we demonstrated the ability of the approach to improve the clustering performance and assist in the identification and selection of informative expression motifs.
Inflammation is a highly complex biological response evoked by many stimuli. A persistent challenge in modeling this dynamic process has been the (nonlinear) nature of the response that precludes the single-variable assumption. Systems-based approaches offer a promising possibility for understanding inflammation in its homeostatic context. In order to study the underlying complexity of the acute inflammatory response, an agent-based framework is developed that models the emerging host response as the outcome of orchestrated interactions associated with intricate signaling cascades and intercellular immune system interactions.
An agent-based modeling (ABM) framework is proposed to study the nonlinear dynamics of acute human inflammation. The model is implemented using NetLogo software. Interacting agents involve either inflammation-specific molecules or cells essential for the propagation of the inflammatory reaction across the system. Spatial orientation of molecule interactions involved in signaling cascades coupled with the cellular heterogeneity are further taken into account. The proposed in silico model is evaluated through its ability to successfully reproduce a self-limited inflammatory response as well as a series of scenarios indicative of the nonlinear dynamics of the response. Such scenarios involve either a persistent (non)infectious response or innate immune tolerance and potentiation effects followed by perturbations in intracellular signaling molecules and cascades.
The ABM framework developed in this study provides insight on the stochastic interactions of the mediators involved in the propagation of endotoxin signaling at the cellular response level. The simulation results are in accordance with our prior research effort associated with the development of deterministic human inflammation models that include transcriptional dynamics, signaling, and physiological components. The hypothetical scenarios explored in this study would potentially improve our understanding of how manipulating the behavior of the molecular species could manifest into emergent behavior of the overall system.
One of the challenges in exploiting high throughput measurement techniques such as microarrays is the conversion of the vast amounts of data obtained into relevant knowledge. Of particular importance is the identification of the intrinsic response of a transcriptional experiment and the characterization of the underlying dynamics.
Methodology and Findings
The proposed algorithm seeks to provide the researcher a summary as to various aspects relating to the dynamic progression of a biological system, rather than that of individual genes. The approach is based on the identification of smaller number of expression motifs that define the transcriptional state of the system which quantifies the deviation of the cellular response from a control state in the presence of an external perturbation. The approach is demonstrated with a number of data sets including a synthetic base case and four animal studies. The synthetic dataset will be used to establish the response of the algorithm on a “null” dataset, whereas the four different experimental datasets represent a spectrum of possible time course experiments in terms of the degree of perturbation associated with the experiment as well as representing a wide range of temporal sampling strategies. This wide range of experimental datasets will thus allow us to explore the performance of the proposed algorithm and determine its ability identify relevant information.
Conclusions and Significance
In this work, we present a computational approach which operates on high throughput temporal gene expression data to assess the information content of the experiment, identify dynamic markers of important processes associated with the experimental perturbation, and summarize in a concise manner the evolution of the system over time with respect to the experimental perturbation.
During the onset of an inflammatory response signaling pathways are activated for “translating” extracellular signals into intracellular responses converging to the activation of nuclear factor (NF)-kB, a central transcription factor in driving the inflammatory response. An inadequate control of its transcriptional activity is associated with the culmination of a hyper-inflammatory response making it a desired therapeutic target. Predicated upon the nature of the response, a systems level analysis might provide rational leads for the development of strategies that promote the resolution of the response.
Methodology and Findings
A physicochemical host response model is proposed to integrate biological information in the form of kinetic rules and signaling cascades with pharmacokinetic models of drug action for the modulation of the response. The unifying hypothesis is that the response is triggered by the activation of the NFkB signaling module and corticosteroids serve as a template for assessing anti-inflammatory strategies. The proposed in silico model is evaluated through its ability to predict and modulate uncontrolled responses. The pre-exposure of the system to hypercortisolemia, i.e. 6 hr before or simultaneously with the infectious challenge “reprograms” the dynamics of the host towards a balanced inflammatory response. However, if such an intervention occurs long before the inflammatory insult a symptomatic effect is observed instead of a protective relief while a steroid infusion after inducing inflammation requires much higher drug doses.
Conclusions and Significance
We propose a reversed engineered inflammation model that seeks to describe how the system responds to a multitude of external signals. Timing of intervention and dosage regimes appears to be key determinants for the protective or symptomatic effect of exogenous corticosteroids. Such results lie in qualitative agreement with in vivo human studies exposed both to LPS and corticosteroids under various time intervals thus improving our understanding of how interacting modules generate a behavior.
One of the challenges with modeling the temporal progression of biological signals is dealing with the effect of noise and the limited number of replicates at each time point. Given the rising interest in utilizing predictive mathematical models to describe the biological response of an organism or analysis such as clustering and gene ontology enrichment, it is important to determine whether the dynamic progression of the data has been accurately captured despite the limited number of replicates, such that one can have confidence that the results of the analysis are capturing important salient dynamic features.
By pre-selecting genes based upon quality before the identification of differential expression via algorithm such as EDGE, it was found that the percentage of statistically enriched ontologies (p < .05) was improved. Furthermore, it was found that a majority of the genes found via the proposed technique were also selected via an EDGE selection though the reverse was not necessarily true. It was also found that improvements offered by the proposed algorithm are anti-correlated with improvements in the various microarray platforms and the number of replicates. This is illustrated by the fact that newer arrays and experiments with more replicates show less improvement when the filtering for quality is first run before the selection of differentially expressed genes. This suggests that the increase in the number of replicates as well as improvements in array technologies are increase the confidence one has in the dynamics obtained from the experiment.
We have developed an algorithm that quantifies the quality of temporal biological signal rather than whether the signal illustrates a significant change over the experimental time course. Because the use of these temporal signals, whether it is in mathematical modeling or clustering, focuses upon the entire time series, it is necessary to develop a method to quantify and select for signals which conform to this ideal. By doing this, we have demonstrated a marked and consistent improvement in the results of a clustering exercise over multiple experiments, microarray platforms, and experimental designs.