Systems biology approaches to heart development and congenital heart disease


  • S.R. Sperling


  • Cardiovascular Research


  • Cardiovasc Res 91 (2): 269-278


  • Even though the foundation of systems biology approaches to cardiac function was led more than 50 years ago, there has been slow progression over the last decades. Systems biology studies were mainly focused on lower organisms, frequently on yeast. With the boost of high-throughput technologies, systems-level analyses, building one backbone of systems biology, started to complement the single-gene focus in the fields of heart development and congenital heart disease. A challenge is to bring together the many uncovered molecular components driving heart development, and eventually to establish computational models describing this complex developmental process. Congenital heart diseases represent overlapping phenotypes, reflecting the modularity of heart development. The etiology of the majority of congenital heart disease is still unknown and it is suggestive that understanding the biological network underlying heart development will enhance our understanding for its alteration. This review provides an overview of the framework for systems biology approaches focusing on the developing heart and its pathology. Recent methodological developments building the basis for future studies are highlighted and the knowledge gained is specified.