Rheumatoid arthritis

Rheumatoid Arthritis Map (RA-MAP)

Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a multifactorial autoimmune disease that causes chronic inflammation of the joints. The etiology of the disease remains still unclear. Patients with autoimmune diseases have an immune system that targets and attacks their own body tissues. Characteristic features of RA include inflammation of the tissue around the joints and hyperplasia (swelling) that can lead to bone erosion and permanent deformity. The disease can affect multiple organs in the body causing inflammation and injury and for this it is considered a systemic illness.

RA affects approximately 1% of the worldwide population. Women have a two to three higher risk developing the disease in comparison to men. It is currently believed that RA initiates as a result of complex interactions between genetic and environmental factors and that these factors are responsible for susceptibility and phenotype.

All cellular processes can be depicted as, and characterized by, their underlying complex molecular networks. This fundamental concept of viewing cells has brought up the need to develop high-quality methodologies for the construction and subsequent analysis of these molecular networks at a systems level. Quantitative kinetic models using differential or stochastic equations can provide a detailed analysis of a network’s dynamics, but they require a number of parameters that is often prohibitively large. In order to address the scarcity of kinetic data in signalling pathways, the use of discrete logic-based models is proposed as an alternative way to study the system’s qualitative dynamic behavior.

The University of Evry is working on an updated, detailed, fully annotated molecular map for RA based on exhaustive curation of the existing literature using CellDesigner. This map will serve as a template for the construction of a qualitative dynamical model, in order to explore the dynamical properties of the system and analyze its underlying regulatory networks. The model will then be used to address different biological questions such as comparing the network for different phenotypes, trying to understand the mechanisms driving variable responses to treatment and investigating the role of co- and multi-morbidities.

The University of Ulster in collaboration with the EISBM is working to map out the key components from the range of cells involved in RA, trying to investigate the cellular interplay that leads to specific phenotypes. The work was initiated with the support from CASyM Research Exchange grant and continued as a long-term collaboration.

The two teams have joined forces in order to create a state-of-the-art, refined, expert-reviewed map for RA.


Singh V, Ostaszewski M, Kalliolias GD, Chiocchia G, Olaso R, Petit-Teixeira E, Helikar H, Niarakis A. Computational Systems Biology Approach for the Study of Rheumatoid Arthritis: From a Molecular Map to a Dynamical Model. Genomics and Computational Biology, [S.l.], p. e100050, dec. 2017. ISSN 2365-7154. doi:10.18547/gcb.2018.vol4.iss1.e100050.

Development Team

Vidisha Singh Vidisha Singh, MSc
University of Evry Val d’Essonne, France
PhD Student
GenHotel EA3886
European Research Laboratory for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Genopole, Evry
Anna Niarakis Anna Niarakis, PhD
University of Evry Val d’Essonne, France
Associate Professor, Department of Biology
GenHotel EA3886
European Research Laboratory for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Genopole, Evry
Elisabeth Petit-Teixeira Elisabeth Petit-Teixeira, PhD
University of Evry Val d’Essonne, France
Professor, Department of Biology
GenHotel EA3886
European Research Laboratory for Rheumatoid Arthritis, Genopole, Evry
Steven Watterson Steven Watterson, MPhys, PhD
University of Ulster, UK
Lecturer in Computational Biology (Hypertension), School of Biomedical Sciences
Andrew Parton Andrew Parton, BSc
University of Ulster, UK
PhD Student

Editorial Panel

David Gibson David Gibson, PhD
University of Ulster, UK
Lecturer in Stratified Medicine, School of Biomedical Sciences
Gilles Chiocchia Gilles Chiocchia, PhD
University of Versailles-Saint-Quentin-en-Yvelines, France
Professor - Hospital Practitioner
Director INSERM UMR 1173 - Infection and Inflammation
Head of Laboratory of Chronic Infection and Inflammation
George D. Kalliolias George D. Kalliolias, MD, PhD
Hospital for Special Surgery, Weill Cornell Medical College, New York City, US
Director of Precision Medicine Laboratory at the Hospital for Special Surgery, Assistant Professor of Medicine at the Weill Cornell Medical College