Investigating the role of interleukin-1 beta and glutamate in inflammatory bowel disease and epilepsy using discovery browsing

Thomas C. Rindflesch, Catherine Lesley Blake, Michael J. Cairelli, Marcelo Fiszman, Caroline J. Zeiss, Halil Kilicoglu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Structured electronic health records are a rich resource for identifying novel correlations, such as co-morbidities and adverse drug reactions. For drug development and better understanding of biomedical phenomena, such correlations need to be supported by viable hypotheses about the mechanisms involved, which can then form the basis of experimental investigations. Methods: In this study, we demonstrate the use of discovery browsing, a literature-based discovery method, to generate plausible hypotheses elucidating correlations identified from structured clinical data. The method is supported by Semantic MEDLINE web application, which pinpoints interesting concepts and relevant MEDLINE citations, which are used to build a coherent hypothesis. Results: Discovery browsing revealed a plausible explanation for the correlation between epilepsy and inflammatory bowel disease that was found in an earlier population study. The generated hypothesis involves interleukin-1 beta (IL-1 beta) and glutamate, and suggests that IL-1 beta influence on glutamate levels is involved in the etiology of both epilepsy and inflammatory bowel disease. Conclusions: The approach presented in this paper can supplement population-based correlation studies by enabling the scientist to identify literature that may justify the novel patterns identified in such studies and can underpin basic biomedical research that can lead to improved treatments and better healthcare outcomes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number25
JournalJournal of Biomedical Semantics
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 27 2018


  • Discovery browsing
  • Epilepsy
  • Glutamate
  • Inflammatory bowel disease
  • Interleukin-1 beta
  • Literature-based discovery

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Information Systems
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Health Informatics
  • Computer Networks and Communications


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