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Review

Dupuytren's: a systems biology disease

Samrina Rehman1, Royston Goodacre2, Philip J Day3, Ardeshir Bayat4 and Hans V Westerhoff15*

Author affiliations

1 Manchester Centre for Integrative Systems Biology, Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre, University of Manchester, Manchester, M1 7DN, UK

2 School of Chemistry, Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre, University of Manchester, Manchester, M1 7DN, UK

3 Quantitative Molecular Medicine Research, CIGMR, Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre, University of Manchester, Manchester, M1 7DN, UK

4 Plastic and Reconstructive Surgery Research, Manchester Interdisciplinary Biocentre, University of Manchester, Manchester, M1 7DN, UK

5 Netherlands Institute for Systems Biology, VU University Amsterdam, NL-1081 HV, The Netherlands

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Citation and License

Arthritis Research & Therapy 2011, 13:238  doi:10.1186/ar3438

Published: 12 September 2011

Abstract

Dupuytren's disease (DD) is an ill-defined fibroproliferative disorder of the palm of the hands leading to digital contracture. DD commonly occurs in individuals of northern European extraction. Cellular components and processes associated with DD pathogenesis include altered gene and protein expression of cytokines, growth factors, adhesion molecules, and extracellular matrix components. Histology has shown increased but varying levels of particular types of collagen, myofibroblasts and myoglobin proteins in DD tissue. Free radicals and localised ischaemia have been suggested to trigger the proliferation of DD tissue. Although the existing available biological information on DD may contain potentially valuable (though largely uninterpreted) information, the precise aetiology of DD remains unknown. Systems biology combines mechanistic modelling with quantitative experimentation in studies of networks and better understanding of the interaction of multiple components in disease processes. Adopting systems biology may be the ideal approach for future research in order to improve understanding of complex diseases of multifactorial origin. In this review, we propose that DD is a disease of several networks rather than of a single gene, and show that this accounts for the experimental observations obtained to date from a variety of sources. We outline how DD may be investigated more effectively by employing a systems biology approach that considers the disease network as a whole rather than focusing on any specific single molecule.