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Journal of Biomedicine and Biotechnology
Volume 2011, Article ID 810242, 19 pages
Review Article

Studies of Complex Biological Systems with Applications to Molecular Medicine: The Need to Integrate Transcriptomic and Proteomic Approaches

1Dipartimento di Scienze Biologiche ed Ambientali, Università degli Studi del Sannio, Via Port'Arsa 11, 82100 Benevento, Italy
2Dipartimento delle Scienze Biologiche, Sezione Fisiologia, Università degli Studi di Napoli “Federico II”, Via Mezzocannone 8, 80134 Napoli, Italy
3Dipartimento di Scienze della Vita, Seconda Università di Napoli, Via Vivaldi 43, 81100 Caserta, Italy

Received 15 April 2010; Accepted 8 September 2010

Academic Editor: Mika Ala-Korpela

Copyright © 2011 Elena Silvestri et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Omics approaches to the study of complex biological systems with potential applications to molecular medicine are attracting great interest in clinical as well as in basic biological research. Genomics, transcriptomics and proteomics are characterized by the lack of an a priori definition of scope, and this gives sufficient leeway for investigators (a) to discern all at once a globally altered pattern of gene/protein expression and (b) to examine the complex interactions that regulate entire biological processes. Two popular platforms in “omics” are DNA microarrays, which measure messenger RNA transcript levels, and proteomic analyses, which identify and quantify proteins. Because of their intrinsic strengths and weaknesses, no single approach can fully unravel the complexities of fundamental biological events. However, an appropriate combination of different tools could lead to integrative analyses that would furnish new insights not accessible through one-dimensional datasets. In this review, we will outline some of the challenges associated with integrative analyses relating to the changes in metabolic pathways that occur in complex pathophysiological conditions (viz. ageing and altered thyroid state) in relevant metabolically active tissues. In addition, we discuss several new applications of proteomic analysis to the investigation of mitochondrial activity.