Mapping the effects of drugs on the immune system

Nat Biotechnol. 2016 Jan;34(1):47-54. doi: 10.1038/nbt.3367. Epub 2015 Nov 30.


Understanding how drugs affect the immune system has consequences for treating disease and minimizing unwanted side effects. Here we present an integrative computational approach for predicting interactions between drugs and immune cells in a system-wide manner. The approach matches gene sets between transcriptional signatures to determine their similarity. We apply the method to model the interactions between 1,309 drugs and 221 immune cell types and predict 69,995 interactions. The resulting immune-cell pharmacology map is used to predict how five drugs influence four immune cell types in humans and mice. To validate the predictions, we analyzed patient records and examined cell population changes from in vivo experiments. Our method offers a tool for screening thousands of interactions to identify relationships between drugs and the immune system.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Humans
  • Immune System / drug effects*
  • Mice
  • Transcription, Genetic / drug effects