The mouse pathology ontology, MPATH; structure and applications

Paul N Schofield, John P Sundberg, Beth A Sundberg, Colin McKerlie, Georgios V Gkoutos

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Abstract

The capture and use of disease-related anatomic pathology data for both model organism phenotyping and human clinical practice requires a relatively simple nomenclature and coding system that can be integrated into data collection platforms (such as computerized medical record-keeping systems) to enable the pathologist to rapidly screen and accurately record observations. The MPATH ontology was originally constructed in 2000 by a committee of pathologists for the annotation of rodent histopathology images, but is now widely used for coding and analysis of disease and phenotype data for rodents, humans and zebrafish.Construction and contentMPATH is divided into two main branches describing pathological processes and structures based on traditional histopathological principles. It does not aim to include definitive diagnoses, which would generally be regarded as disease concepts. It contains 888 core pathology terms in an almost exclusively is_a hierarchy nine layers deep. Currently, 86% of the terms have textual definitions and contain relationships as well as logical axioms to other ontologies such the Gene Ontology.Application and utilityMPATH was originally devised for the annotation of histopathological images from mice but is now being used much more widely in the recording of diagnostic and phenotypic data from both mice and humans, and in the construction of logical definitions for phenotype and disease ontologies. We discuss the use of MPATH to generate cross-products with qualifiers derived from a subset of the Phenotype and Trait Ontology (PATO) and its application to large-scale high-throughput phenotyping studies. MPATH provides a largely species-agnostic ontology for the descriptions of anatomic pathology, which can be applied to most amniotes and is now finding extensive use in species other than mice. It enables investigators to interrogate large datasets at a variety of depths, use semantic analysis to identify the relations between diseases in different species and integrate pathology data with other data types, such as pharmacogenomics.
Original languageEnglish
Article number18
JournalJournal of Biomedical Semantics
Volume4
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 13 Sept 2013

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