Deconvolution of blood microarray data identifies cellular activation patterns in systemic lupus erythematosus

PLoS One. 2009 Jul 1;4(7):e6098. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0006098.


Systemic Lupus Erythematosus (SLE) is a systemic autoimmune disease with a complex spectrum of cellular and molecular characteristics including several dramatic changes in the populations of peripheral leukocytes. These changes include general leukopenia, activation of B and T cells, and maturation of granulocytes. The manifestation of SLE in peripheral blood is central to the disease but is incompletely understood. A technique for rigorously characterizing changes in mixed populations of cells, microarray expression deconvolution, has been applied to several areas of biology but not to SLE or to blood. Here we demonstrate that microarray expression deconvolution accurately quantifies the constituents of real blood samples and mixtures of immune-derived cell lines. We characterize a broad spectrum of peripheral leukocyte cell types and states in SLE to uncover novel patterns including: specific activation of NK and T helper lymphocytes, relationships of these patterns to each other, and correlations to clinical variables and measures. The expansion and activation of monocytes, NK cells, and T helper cells in SLE at least partly underlie this disease's prominent interferon signature. These and other patterns of leukocyte dynamics uncovered here correlate with disease severity and treatment, suggest potential new treatments, and extend our understanding of lupus pathology as a complex autoimmune disease involving many arms of the immune system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • B-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / blood*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / immunology
  • Lymphocyte Activation*
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology

Associated data

  • GEO/GSE11057
  • GEO/GSE11058