An integrative systems biology strategy to support the development of adverse outcome pathways (AOPs): a case study on radiation-induced microcephaly

Thomas Jaylet, Roel Quintens, Olivier Armant, Karine Audouze

Research outputpeer-review


Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs) are useful tools for assessing the potential risks associated with exposure to various stressors, including chemicals and environmental contaminants. They provide a framework for understanding the causal relationships between different biological events that can lead to adverse outcomes (AO). However, developing an AOP is a challenging task, particularly in identifying the molecular initiating events (MIEs) and key events (KEs) that constitute it. Here, we propose a systems biology strategy that can assist in the development of AOPs by screening publicly available databases, literature with the text mining tool AOP-helpFinder, and pathway/network analyses. This approach is straightforward to use, requiring only the name of the stressor and adverse outcome to be studied. From this, it quickly identifies potential KEs and literature providing mechanistic information on the links between the KEs. The proposed approach was applied to the recently developed AOP 441 on radiation-induced microcephaly, resulting in the confirmation of the KEs that were already present and identification of new relevant KEs, thereby validating the strategy. In conclusion, our systems biology approach represents a valuable tool to simplify the development and enrichment of Adverse Outcome Pathways (AOPs), thus supporting alternative methods in toxicology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number1197204
Number of pages11
JournalFrontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
StatePublished - 22 Jun 2023

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Developmental Biology
  • Cell Biology

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