Network physiology reveals relations between network topology and physiological function

Amir Bashan, Ronny P. Bartsch, Jan W. Kantelhardt, Shlomo Havlin, Plamen Ch Ivanov

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

516 Scopus citations


The human organism is an integrated network where complex physiological systems, each with its own regulatory mechanisms, continuously interact, and where failure of one system can trigger a breakdown of the entire network. Identifying and quantifying dynamical networks of diverse systems with different types of interactions is a challenge. Here we develop a framework to probe interactions among diverse systems, and we identify a physiological network. We find that each physiological state is characterized by a specific network structure, demonstrating a robust interplay between network topology and function. Across physiological states, the network undergoes topological transitions associated with fast reorganization of physiological interactions on time scales of a few minutes, indicating high network flexibility in response to perturbations. The proposed system-wide integrative approach may facilitate the development of a new field, Network Physiology.

Original languageEnglish
Article number702
JournalNature Communications
StatePublished - 28 Feb 2012

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
We thank T. Penzel for providing the data and helpful comments, and A.Y. Schumann for help with data selection, data pre-processing and discussions. We acknowledge support from NIH Grant 1R01-HL098437, the US-Israel Binational Science Foundation (BSF Grant 2008137), the Office of Naval Research (ONR Grant 000141010078), the Israel Science Foundation, the European Community (projects DAPHNet/FP6 IST 018474-2 and SOCIONICAL/FP7 ICT 231288) and the Brigham and Women’s Hospital Biomedical Research Institute Fund. R.P.B. acknowledges support from the German Academic Exchange Service (DAAD fellowship within the Postdoc-Programme).


FundersFunder number
National Heart, Lung, and Blood InstituteR01HL098437
Seventh Framework Programme231288


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