Correlation network analysis for data integration and biomarker selection

High-throughput biomolecular profiling techniques such as transcriptomics, proteomics and metabolomics are increasingly being used in in vivo studies to recognize and characterize effects of xenobiotics on organs and systems. Of particular interest are biomarkers of treatment-related effects which are detectable in easily accessible biological fluids such as blood. A fundamental challenge in such biomarker studies is selecting among the plethora of biomolecular changes induced by a compound and revealed by molecular profiling, to identify biomarkers which are exclusively or predominantly due to specific processes. In this work we present a cross-compartment correlation network approach, involving no a priori supervision or design, to integrate proteomic, metabolomic and transcriptomic data for selecting circulating biomarkers. The case study we present is the identification of biomarkers of drug-induced hepatic toxicity effects in a rodent model. Biomolecular profiling of both blood plasma and liver tissue from Wistar Hannover rats administered a toxic compound yielded many hundreds of statistically significant molecular changes. We exploited drug-induced correlations between blood plasma analytes and liver tissue molecules across study animals in order to nominate selected plasma molecules as biomarkers of drug-induced hepatic alterations of lipid metabolism and urea cycle processes.


A. Adourian, E. Jennings, R. Balasubramanian and others
2008; 4 (3): 249-259
Published in: 
Molecular Biosystems
Date of publication: 
March, 2008
Status of the publication: