Background: Large-scale gene expression profiling of peripheral blood mononuclear cells from Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) patients could provide a molecular description that reflects the contribution of diverse cellular responses associated with this disease. The aim of our study was to identify peripheral blood gene expression profiles for RA patients, using Illumina technology, to gain insights into RA molecular mechanisms.
Methodology/principal findings: The Illumina Human-6v2 Expression BeadChips were used for a complete genome-wide transcript profiling of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from 18 RA patients and 15 controls. Differential analysis per gene was performed with one-way analysis of variance (ANOVA) and P values were adjusted to control the False Discovery Rate (FDR<5%). Genes differentially expressed at significant level between patients and controls were analyzed using Gene Ontology (GO) in the PANTHER database to identify biological processes. A differentially expression of 339 Reference Sequence genes (238 down-regulated and 101 up-regulated) between the two groups was observed. We identified a remarkably elevated expression of a spectrum of genes involved in Immunity and Defense in PBMCs of RA patients compared to controls. This result is confirmed by GO analysis, suggesting that these genes could be activated systemically in RA. No significant down-regulated ontology groups were found. Microarray data were validated by real time PCR in a set of nine genes showing a high degree of correlation.
Conclusions/significance: Our study highlighted several new genes that could contribute in the identification of innovative clinical biomarkers for diagnostic procedures and therapeutic interventions.