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A systematic approach for identifying shared mechanisms in epilepsy and its comorbidities

: Hoyt, Charles Tapley; Domingo-Fernandez, Daniel; Balzer, Nora; Güldenpfennig, Anka; Hofmann-Apitius, Martin

Fulltext ()

Database (2018), Art. bay050
ISSN: 1758-0463
Journal Article, Electronic Publication
Fraunhofer SCAI ()

Cross-sectional epidemiological studies have shown that the incidence of several nervous system diseases is more frequent in epilepsy patients than in the general population. Some comorbidities [e.g. Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease] are also risk factors for the development of seizures; suggesting they may share pathophysiological mechanisms with epilepsy. A literature-based approach was used to identify gene overlap between epilepsy and its comorbidities as a proxy for a shared genetic basis for disease, or genetic pleiotropy, as a first effort to identify shared mechanisms. While the results identified neurological disorders as the group of diseases with the highest gene overlap, this analysis was insufficient for identifying putative common mechanisms shared across epilepsy and its comorbidities. This motivated the use of a dedicated literature mining and knowledge assembly approach in which a cause-and-effect model of epilepsy was captured with Biological Expression Language. After enriching the knowledge assembly with information surrounding epilepsy, its risk factors, its comorbidities, and anti-epileptic drugs, a novel comparative mechanism enrichment approach was used to propose several downstream effectors (including the GABA receptor, GABAergic pathways, etc.) that could explain the therapeutic effects carbamazepine in both the contexts of epilepsy and AD. We have made the Epilepsy Knowledge Assembly available at and queryable through NeuroMMSig at The source code used for analysis and tutorials for reproduction are available on GitHub at