Network analysis: a new approach to study endocrine disorders

    1. M J Dunne7
    1. 1Faculty of Medical and Human Sciences, Institute of Human Development, University of Manchester, Manchester, UK
      2Manchester Academic Health Science Centre, Royal Manchester Children's Hospital, Central Manchester University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, 5th Floor, Oxford Road, Manchester M13 9WL, UK
      3Paediatric and Adolescent Oncology, The University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9WL, UK
      4Stem Cell and Leukaemia Proteomics Laboratory, School of Cancer and Imaging Sciences, The University of Manchester, Manchester M20 4BX, UK
      5Musculoskeletal Research Group, NIHR BRU, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9PT, UK
      6Department Pediatrie, Hôpital Mère-Enfant, Université Claude Bernard, 69677 Lyon, France
      7Faculty of Life Sciences, University of Manchester, Manchester M13 9NT, UK
    1. Correspondence should be addressed to A Stevens; Email: adam.stevens{at}


    Systems biology is the study of the interactions that occur between the components of individual cells – including genes, proteins, transcription factors, small molecules, and metabolites, and their relationships to complex physiological and pathological processes. The application of systems biology to medicine promises rapid advances in both our understanding of disease and the development of novel treatment options. Network biology has emerged as the primary tool for studying systems biology as it utilises the mathematical analysis of the relationships between connected objects in a biological system and allows the integration of varied ‘omic’ datasets (including genomics, metabolomics, proteomics, etc.). Analysis of network biology generates interactome models to infer and assess function; to understand mechanisms, and to prioritise candidates for further investigation. This review provides an overview of network methods used to support this research and an insight into current applications of network analysis applied to endocrinology. A wide spectrum of endocrine disorders are included ranging from congenital hyperinsulinism in infancy, through childhood developmental and growth disorders, to the development of metabolic diseases in early and late adulthood, such as obesity and obesity-related pathologies. In addition to providing a deeper understanding of diseases processes, network biology is also central to the development of personalised treatment strategies which will integrate pharmacogenomics with systems biology of the individual.

    • Revision received 19 August 2013
    • Accepted 1 October 2013
    • Made available online as an Accepted Preprint 1 October 2013
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