CD8+ T cell gene expression analysis identifies differentially expressed genes between multiple sclerosis patients and healthy controls

Mult Scler J Exp Transl Clin. 2020 Dec 9;6(4):2055217320978511. doi: 10.1177/2055217320978511. eCollection 2020 Oct-Dec.


Background: Genetic and clinical observations have indicated T cells are involved in MS pathology. There is little insight in how T cells are involved and whether or not these can be used as markers for MS.

Objectives: Analysis of the gene expression profiles of circulating CD8+ T cells of MS patients compared to healthy controls.

Methods: RNA from purified CD8+ T cells was sequenced and analyzed for differential gene expression. Pathway analyses of genes at several p-value cutoffs were performed to identify putative pathways involved.

Results: We identified 36 genes with significant differential gene expression in MS patients. Four genes reached at least 2-fold differences in expression. The majority of differentially expressed genes was higher expressed in MS patients. Genes associated to MS in GWAS showed enrichment amongst the differentially expressed genes. We did not identify enrichment of specific pathways amongst the differentially expressed genes in MS patients.

Conclusions: CD8+ T cells of MS patients show differential gene expression, with predominantly higher activity of genes in MS patients. We do not identify specific biological pathways in our study. More detailed analysis of CD8+ T cells and subtypes of these may increase understanding of how T cells are involved in MS.

Keywords: Multiple sclerosis; RNA; T-Lymphocytes; autoimmunity; gene expression; neurology.