Respiratory epithelium is the target of therapies, such as gene therapy, for cystic fibrosis (CF) lung disease. To determine the usefulness of the nasal epithelium as a pre-screen for lung-directed therapies, we profiled gene expression in CF and non-CF nasal and bronchial epithelium samples using Illumina HumanRef-8 Expression BeadChips. 863 genes were differentially expressed between CF and non-CF bronchial epithelium but only 15 were differentially expressed between CF and non-CF nasal epithelium (≥1.5-fold, P≤0.05). The most enriched pathway in CF bronchial epithelium was inflammatory response, whereas in CF nasal epithelium it was amino acid metabolism. We also compared nasal and bronchial epithelium in each group and identified differential expression of cellular movement genes in CF patients and cellular growth genes in non-CF subjects. We conclude that CF and non-CF nasal and bronchial epithelium are transcriptionally distinct and CF nasal epithelium is not a good surrogate for the lung respiratory epithelium.
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