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Curr Opin Biotechnol. 2015 Aug;34:48-55. doi: 10.1016/j.copbio.2014.11.020. Epub 2014 Dec 10.

Critical transitions in chronic disease: transferring concepts from ecology to systems medicine.

Author information

1
Experimental Neurobiology Group, Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), University of Luxembourg, Campus Belval, 7 Avenue des Hauts-Fourneaux, L-4362 Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg.
2
Systems Control Group, Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), University of Luxembourg, Campus Belval, 7 Avenue des Hauts-Fourneaux, L-4362 Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg.
3
National Center for Microscopy and Imaging Research, University of California San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA, United States; Integrative Cell Signalling Group, Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), University of Luxembourg, Campus Belval, 7 Avenue des Hauts-Fourneaux, L-4362 Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg.
4
Experimental Neurobiology Group, Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB), University of Luxembourg, Campus Belval, 7 Avenue des Hauts-Fourneaux, L-4362 Esch-sur-Alzette, Luxembourg. Electronic address: rudi.balling@uni.lu.

Abstract

Ecosystems and biological systems are known to be inherently complex and to exhibit nonlinear dynamics. Diseases such as microbiome dysregulation or depression can be seen as complex systems as well and were shown to exhibit patterns of nonlinearity in their response to perturbations. These nonlinearities can be revealed by a sudden shift in system states, for instance from health to disease. The identification and characterization of early warning signals which could predict upcoming critical transitions is of primordial interest as prevention of disease onset is a major aim in health care. In this review, we focus on recent evidence for critical transitions in diseases and discuss the potential of such studies for therapeutic applications.

PMID:
25498477
DOI:
10.1016/j.copbio.2014.11.020
[Indexed for MEDLINE]
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