PLoS Computational Biology (Sep 2011)

A systems biology approach identifies molecular networks defining skeletal muscle abnormalities in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease.

  • Nil Turan,
  • Susana Kalko,
  • Anna Stincone,
  • Kim Clarke,
  • Ayesha Sabah,
  • Katherine Howlett,
  • S John Curnow,
  • Diego A Rodriguez,
  • Marta Cascante,
  • Laura O'Neill,
  • Stuart Egginton,
  • Josep Roca,
  • Francesco Falciani

Journal volume & issue
Vol. 7, no. 9
p. e1002129


Read online

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is an inflammatory process of the lung inducing persistent airflow limitation. Extensive systemic effects, such as skeletal muscle dysfunction, often characterize these patients and severely limit life expectancy. Despite considerable research efforts, the molecular basis of muscle degeneration in COPD is still a matter of intense debate. In this study, we have applied a network biology approach to model the relationship between muscle molecular and physiological response to training and systemic inflammatory mediators. Our model shows that failure to co-ordinately activate expression of several tissue remodelling and bioenergetics pathways is a specific landmark of COPD diseased muscles. Our findings also suggest that this phenomenon may be linked to an abnormal expression of a number of histone modifiers, which we discovered correlate with oxygen utilization. These observations raised the interesting possibility that cell hypoxia may be a key factor driving skeletal muscle degeneration in COPD patients.