The pathological mechanisms that lead to the onset and reactivation of celiac disease (CD) remain largely unknown. While gluten free diet (GFD) improves the intestinal damage and associated clinical symptoms in majority of cases, it falls short of providing full recovery. Additionally, late or misdiagnosis is also common as CD presents with a wide range of symptoms. Clear understanding of CD pathogenesis is thus critical to address both diagnostic and treatment concerns. We aimed to study the molecular impact of short gluten exposure in GFD treated CD patients, as well as identify biological pathways that remain altered constitutively in CD regardless of treatment. Using RNAseq profiling of PBMC samples collected from treated CD patients and gluten challenged patient and healthy controls, we explored the peripheral transcriptome in CD patients following a short gluten exposure. Short gluten exposure of just three days was enough to alter the genome-wide PBMC transcriptome of patients. Pathway analysis revealed gluten-induced upregulation of mainly immune response related pathways, both innate and adaptive, in CD patients. We evaluated the perturbation of biological pathways in sample-specific manner. Compared to gluten exposed healthy controls, pathways related to tight junction, olfactory transduction, metabolism of unsaturated fatty acids (such as arachidonic acid), metabolism of amino acids (such as cysteine and glutamate), and microbial infection were constitutively altered in CD patients regardless of treatment, while GFD treatment appears to mostly normalize immune response pathways to "healthy" state. Upstream regulator prediction analysis using differentially expressed genes identified constitutively activated regulators relatively proximal to previously reported CD associated loci, particularly SMARCA4 on 19p13.2 and CSF2 on 5q31. We also found constitutively upregulated genes in CD that are in CD associated genetic loci such as MEF2BNB-MEF2B (BORCS8-MEF2B) on 19p13.11 and CSTB on 21q22.3. RNAseq revealed strong effects of short oral gluten challenge on whole PBMC fraction and constitutively altered pathways in CD PBMC suggesting important factors other than gluten in CD pathogenesis.
Keywords: celiac disease; celiac disease RNA sequencing; celiac disease gene expression analysis; celiac disease transcriptomics; pathway analysis, gluten challenge.
Copyright © 2020 Yohannes, de Kauwe, Kaukinen, Kurppa, Mäki, Anderson, Linnarsson, Greco and Saavalainen.