Systems biology strategies are useful for biomarker identification in traumatic brain injury (TBI)

The identification of biomarkers may have a significant influence on patient care. Biomarkers may be used for better diagnosis, disease profiling, research design, and drug target discovery. For instance, biomarkers have been considered to be critical in the management of traumatic brain injury (TBI) (Feala et al., 2013; Papa et al., 2008).

Complex connections have been observed between TBI and other neurological problems. The multifactorial feature of TBI has made it difficult to identify useful biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis, and effective treatment. Systems biology approaches may be helpful for analyzing the complex molecular networks for the understanding of the secondary cellular responses.

Publicly available resources including KEGG, Reactome, and Gene Ontology can be used for the genetic and pathway annotation. For example, by using pathway analysis, a list of 32 proteins has been identified as candidate biomarkers (Feala et al., 2013). The analysis showed that proteins from the immune system may have direct interactions with proteins related to Alzheimer’s disease and apoptosis. These immune proteins may also interact indirectly with biomarkers including SPTAN1 (spectrin, alpha, non-erythrocytic 1 (alpha-fodrin)) and GFAP (glial fibrillary acidic protein). Understanding of these mechanisms may be useful for further analysis in a network context.


Feala JD, Abdulhameed MD, Yu C, Dutta B, Yu X, Schmid K, Dave J, Tortella F, Reifman J. Systems biology approaches for discovering biomarkers for traumatic brain injury. J Neurotrauma. 2013 Jul 1;30(13):1101-16. doi: 10.1089/neu.2012.2631.

Papa L, Robinson G, Oli M, Pineda J, Demery J, Brophy G, Robicsek SA, Gabrielli A, Robertson CS, Wang KK, Hayes RL. Use of biomarkers for diagnosis and management of traumatic brain injury patients. Expert Opin Med Diagn. 2008 Aug;2(8):937-45. doi: 10.1517/17530059.2.8.937.

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