Analysis of gene expression from systemic lupus erythematosus synovium reveals myeloid cell-driven pathogenesis of lupus arthritis

Sci Rep. 2020 Oct 15;10(1):17361. doi: 10.1038/s41598-020-74391-4.


Arthritis is a common manifestation of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) yet understanding of the underlying pathogenic mechanisms remains incomplete. We, therefore, interrogated gene expression profiles of SLE synovium to gain insight into the nature of lupus arthritis (LA), using osteoarthritis (OA) and rheumatoid arthritis (RA) as comparators. Knee synovia from SLE, OA, and RA patients were analyzed for differentially expressed genes (DEGs) and also by Weighted Gene Co-expression Network Analysis (WGCNA) to identify modules of highly co-expressed genes. Genes upregulated and/or co-expressed in LA revealed numerous immune/inflammatory cells dominated by a myeloid phenotype, in which pathogenic macrophages, myeloid-lineage cells, and their secreted products perpetuate inflammation, whereas OA was characterized by fibroblasts and RA of lymphocytes. Genes governing trafficking of immune cells into the synovium by chemokines were identified, but not in situ generation of germinal centers (GCs). Gene Set Variation Analysis (GSVA) confirmed activation of specific immune cell types in LA. Numerous therapies were predicted to target LA, including TNF, NFκB, MAPK, and CDK inhibitors. Detailed gene expression analysis identified a unique pattern of cellular components and physiologic pathways operative in LA, as well as drugs potentially able to target this common manifestation of SLE.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Arthritis / genetics*
  • Arthritis / pathology
  • Down-Regulation
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Humans
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / genetics*
  • Lupus Erythematosus, Systemic / pathology
  • Myeloid Cells / pathology*
  • Up-Regulation