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Int J Mol Sci. 2020 Feb 7;21(3). pii: E1116. doi: 10.3390/ijms21031116.

Using the Gibbs Function as a Measure of Human Brain Development Trends from Fetal Stage to Advanced Age.

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BINDS Lab, School of Computer Science, University of Massachusetts Amherst, 140 Governors Drive, Amherst, MA 01003-9264, USA.
Department of Physics, University of Alberta, 4-181 CCIS, Edmonton, AB T6G 2E1, Canada.
DIMEAS, Politecnico di Torino, Corso Duca degli Abruzzi 24, 10129 Torino, Italy.
ACTISMED Research, srl, via Genova 4, 10126 Torino, Italy.


We propose to use a Gibbs free energy function as a measure of the human brain development. We adopt this approach to the development of the human brain over the human lifespan: from a prenatal stage to advanced age. We used proteomic expression data with the Gibbs free energy to quantify human brain's protein-protein interaction networks. The data, obtained from BioGRID, comprised tissue samples from the 16 main brain areas, at different ages, of 57 post-mortem human brains. We found a consistent functional dependence of the Gibbs free energies on age for most of the areas and both sexes. A significant upward trend in the Gibbs function was found during the fetal stages, which is followed by a sharp drop at birth with a subsequent period of relative stability and a final upward trend toward advanced age. We interpret these data in terms of structure formation followed by its stabilization and eventual deterioration. Furthermore, gender data analysis has uncovered the existence of functional differences, showing male Gibbs function values lower than female at prenatal and neonatal ages, which become higher at ages 8 to 40 and finally converging at late adulthood with the corresponding female Gibbs functions.


Gibbs free energy; brain development; protein–protein interactions; thermodynamics; transcriptome

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