Semi-Automated Curation Allows Causal Network Model Building for the Quantification of Age-Dependent Plaque Progression in ApoE⁻/⁻ Mouse


The cellular and molecular mechanisms behind the process of atherosclerotic plaque destabilization are complex, and molecular data from aortic plaques are difficult to interpret. Biological network models may overcome these difficulties and precisely quantify the molecular mechanisms impacted during disease progression. The atherosclerosis plaque destabilization biological network model was constructed with the semiautomated curation pipeline, BELIEF. Cellular and molecular mechanisms promoting plaque destabilization or rupture were captured in the network model. Public transcriptomic data sets were used to demonstrate the specificity of the network model and to capture the different mechanisms that were impacted in ApoE⁻/⁻ mouse aorta at 6 and 32 weeks. We concluded that network models combined with the network perturbation amplitude algorithm provide a sensitive, quantitative method to follow disease progression at the molecular level. This approach can be used to investigate and quantify molecular mechanisms during plaque progression.