International Meeting for Autism Research (London, May 15-17, 2008): LITERATURE MINING FOR BETTER UNDERSTANDING OF AUTISM


Friday, May 16, 2008
Champagne Terrace/Bordeaux (Novotel London West)
M. Macedoni-Luksic , University Medical Centre Ljubljana, Division of Paediatrics, Ljubljana, Slovenia
T. Urbancic , University of Nova Gorica, Nova Gorica, Slovenia
I. Petric , University of Nova Gorica, Nova Gorica, Slovenia
B. Cestnik , Jozef Stefan Institute, Ljubljana, Slovenia
Background: There’s an enormous increase of information in the field of autism. It makes an effort to put pieces together into more coherent picture very difficult.

Objectives: We present a literature mining method for searching pairs of papers in disjoint literatures that may contribute to better understanding of complex pathological conditions, such as autism.

Methods: 214 articles about autism in PubMed database, with their entire text published from 1996 to 2006, served as a source of data. Using ontologies construction (OntoGen) we identified the main concepts of what is already known about autism. Then the RaJoLi (Rare, Joint and Linking) method was used to uncover interesting relations. It consists of four steps:
1. Identification of n interesting rare terms C_R1, C_R2, …C_Rn  in literature
about C
2. Search for a joint term A in the literatures about C_R1, C_R2, …C_Rn
3. Search for linking terms B1, B2, …., Bm such that for each Bi there exists a pair of
    articles, one from literature A and one from literature C, both mentioning Bi.
4. Expert evaluation in which it is checked whether obtained pairs of articles contribute to
    better understanding of C.

Results: Calcineurin, a calcium/calmodulin-dependent protein phosphatase and NF-kappaB, a transcriptional factor, were discovered as joint terms in the intersection of corresponding literature. Recent studies indicate that calcineurin participates in intracellular signaling pathways, which regulate synaptic plasticity and neural activities. On the other hand, various genes are responsive for activation of the NF-kappaB, including those for cytokines. In this way NF-kappaB can be involved in the complex relationship between immune system and autism.

Conclusions: Further research is needed to give us stronger evidences about calcineurin and NF-kappaB involvement in autism, but in any case, the method could support experts on their way towards discovering hidden relations in data and better understanding of the disorder.
Sponsor: Slovenian Research Agency

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