Transcriptomic profiling of programmed cell death 1 (PD-1) expressing T cells in early rheumatoid arthritis identifies a decreased CD4 + PD-1 + signature post-treatment

Katie Lowe, Annabelle Small, Qingxuan Song, Ling Yang Hao, William Murray-Brown, Susanna Proudman, Malcolm D. Smith, Sunil Nagpal, Mihir D. Wechalekar

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Abstract

Programmed cell death protein 1 (PD-1)-expressing T cells are expanded in individuals with established rheumatoid arthritis (RA). However, little is known about their functional role in the pathogenesis of early RA. To address this, we investigated the transcriptomic profiles of circulating CD4+ and CD8+ PD-1+ lymphocytes from patients with early RA (n = 5) using fluorescence activated cell sorting in conjunction with total RNA sequencing. Additionally, we assessed for alterations in CD4+PD-1+ gene signatures in previously published synovial tissue (ST) biopsy data (n = 19) (GSE89408, GSE97165) before and after six-months of triple disease modifying anti-rheumatic drug (tDMARD) treatment. Comparisons of gene signatures between CD4+PD-1+ vs. PD-1 cells identified significant upregulation of genes including CXCL13 and MAF, and in pathways including Th1 and Th2, cross talk between dendritic cells and NK cells, B cell development and antigen presentation. Gene signatures from early RA ST before and after six-month tDMARD treatment revealed downregulation of the CD4+PD-1+ signatures following treatment, identifying a mechanism through which tDMARDs exert their effect by influencing T cell populations. Furthermore, we identify factors associated with B cell help that are enhanced in the ST compared with PBMCs, highlighting their importance in driving synovial inflammation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number2847
Number of pages10
JournalScientific Reports
Volume13
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 17 Feb 2023

Keywords

  • Immunology
  • Rheumatology

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