Identifying a gene expression signature of frequent COPD exacerbations in peripheral blood using network methods

Jarrett D. Morrow, Weiliang Qiu, Divya Chhabra, Stephen I. Rennard, Paula Belloni, Anton Belousov, Sreekumar G. Pillai, Craig P. Hersh

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

26 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Exacerbations of chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), characterized by acute deterioration in symptoms, may be due to bacterial or viral infections, environmental exposures, or unknown factors. Exacerbation frequency may be a stable trait in COPD patients, which could imply genetic susceptibility. Observing the genes, networks, and pathways that are up- and down-regulated in COPD patients with differing susceptibility to exacerbations will help to elucidate the molecular signature and pathogenesis of COPD exacerbations. Methods: Gene expression array and plasma biomarker data were obtained using whole-blood samples from subjects enrolled in the Treatment of Emphysema With a Gamma-Selective Retinoid Agonist (TESRA) study. Linear regression, weighted gene co-expression network analysis (WGCNA), and pathway analysis were used to identify signatures and network sub-modules associated with the number of exacerbations within the previous year; other COPD-related phenotypes were also investigated. Results: Individual genes were not found to be significantly associated with the number of exacerbations. However using network methods, a statistically significant gene module was identified, along with other modules showing moderate association. A diverse signature was observed across these modules using pathway analysis, marked by differences in B cell and NK cell activity, as well as cellular markers of viral infection. Within two modules, gene set enrichment analysis recapitulated the molecular signatures of two gene expression experiments; one involving sputum from asthma exacerbations and another involving viral lung infections. The plasma biomarker myeloperoxidase (MPO) was associated with the number of recent exacerbations. Conclusion: A distinct signature of COPD exacerbations may be observed in peripheral blood months following the acute illness. While not predictive in this cross-sectional analysis, these results will be useful in uncovering the molecular pathogenesis of COPD exacerbations.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1
JournalBMC Medical Genomics
Volume8
Issue number1
DOIs
StatePublished - Jan 13 2015

Keywords

  • Biomarker
  • Chronic obstructive pulmonary disease
  • Gene expression profiling
  • Network analysis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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    Morrow, J. D., Qiu, W., Chhabra, D., Rennard, S. I., Belloni, P., Belousov, A., Pillai, S. G., & Hersh, C. P. (2015). Identifying a gene expression signature of frequent COPD exacerbations in peripheral blood using network methods. BMC Medical Genomics, 8(1), [1]. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12920-014-0072-y