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Medical Subject Headings (MeSH®) in MEDLINE®/PubMed®: A Tutorial


Major Topics

  • Asterisks on MeSH headings and subheadings (e.g., Wound Healing/radiation effects*) designate that they are the major topics of the article, usually obtained from the title and/or statement of purpose
  • Non-major (non-asterisked) headings and subheadings are usually additional topics substantively discussed within the article, terms added to qualify a major topic, or check tags. Check tags are never major topics.
  • The only indexed MEDLINE citations without an asterisked heading are some biographies in which the subject’s name may be considered the only major point.
  • Supplementary concept headings cannot be asterisked or carry subheadings.   However, they are mapped to a MeSH heading that is automatically added to the citation. The mapped MeSH heading can carry those attributes.

Gene Links

Citations for articles in which the function of one or more genes and/or proteins is a major topic are linked to entries in the NCBI Gene database.

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