Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disorder characterized by inflammatory-demyelinating events in the central nervous system. Despite more than 40 years of MS research its aetiology remains unknown. This study aims to identify the most frequently reported and consistently regulated molecules in MS in order to generate molecular interaction networks and thereby leading to the identification of deregulated processes and pathways which could give an insight of the underlying molecular mechanisms of MS. Driven by an integrative systems biology approach, gene-expression profiling datasets were combined and stratified into "Non-treated" and "Treated" groups and additionally compared to other disease patterns. Molecular identifiers from dataset comparisons were matched to our Multiple Sclerosis database (MuScle; www.padb.org/muscle). From 5079 statistically significant molecules, correlation analysis within groups identified a panel of 16 high-confidence genes unique to the naïve MS phenotype, whereas the "Treated" group reflected a common pattern associated with autoimmune disease. Pathway and gene-ontology clustering identified the Interferon gamma signalling pathway as the most relevant amongst all significant molecules, and viral infections as the most likely cause of all down-stream events observed. This hypothesis-free approach revealed the most significant molecular events amongst different MS phenotypes which can be used for further detailed studies.
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