About this Research Topic
A fundamental problem in physical, biological, and physiological systems is to understand phenomena where global behaviors across systems emerge out of networked interactions among dynamically changing entities with coupling forms that are a function of time. While systems biology and integrative physiology have focused on the vertical integration from the sub-cellular and cellular level to tissues and organs, there is a wide gap in research efforts and knowledge in the direction of horizontal integration at the level of organ-to-organ interactions. A new field, Network Physiology, has recently emerged to fill this gap and to address the fundamental question of how physiological systems and sub-systems coordinate, synchronize, and integrate their dynamics to optimize functions at the organism level and to maintain health.
Disrupting organ communications and their dynamic coordination as a network can lead to dysfunction in individual systems or the collapse of the entire organism. Thus, in addition to the traditional approach in biology and physiology that defines health and disease through structural, dynamic, and regulatory changes in individual systems, the new conceptual framework of Network Physiology focuses on the coordination and network interactions among systems as a hallmark of physiological state and function.
In dynamic networks of physiological interactions links represent coordination and synchronization between systems and subsystems, and exhibit transient characteristics. A key question is how physiological states and functions emerge out of the collective network dynamics of integrated systems. While network structure may play a role in generating various states and functions, different global behaviors can emerge from the same network topology due to temporal changes in the functional form of physiologic interactions. This poses new challenges in developing generalized methodology adequate to quantify complex dynamics of networks where nodes represent dynamic systems with different forms of coupling that continuously change in time.
The scope of this Research Topic on Network Physiology encompasses investigations where novel methods and approaches derived from recent advances in network theory, nonlinear dynamics, computational and statistical physics, biomedical informatics, and basic physiology and medicine are applied to provide insights into physiological structure and function in health and disease, and across levels of integration, from inter-cellular interactions to communications among integrated organ systems.
The objective of this Research Topic therefore is to provide a forum for developing new methodologies and a theoretical framework to address problems and challenges in Network Physiology, and to promote data-driven discoveries of the basic physiological laws and control mechanisms that underlay these network interactions for various states under both healthy and pathological conditions.
Keywords: Network Physiology, Synchronization, Complex Networks, Coupling, Human Physiolome
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