Ulcerative colitis immune cell landscapes and differentially expressed gene signatures determine novel regulators and predict clinical response to biologic therapy

Sci Rep. 2021 Apr 27;11(1):9010. doi: 10.1038/s41598-021-88489-w.


The heterogeneous pathobiology underlying Ulcerative Colitis (UC) is not fully understood. Using publicly available transcriptomes from adult UC patients, we identified the immune cell landscape, molecular pathways, and differentially expressed genes (DEGs) across patient cohorts and their association with treatment outcomes. The global immune cell landscape of UC tissue included increased neutrophils, T CD4 memory activated cells, active dendritic cells (DC), and M0 macrophages, as well as reduced trends in T CD8, Tregs, B memory, resting DC, and M2 macrophages. Pathway analysis of DEGs across UC cohorts demonstrated activated bacterial, inflammatory, growth, and cellular signaling. We identified a specific transcriptional signature of one hundred DEGs (UC100) that distinctly separated UC inflamed from uninflamed transcriptomes. Several UC100 DEGs, with unidentified roles in UC, were validated in primary tissue. Additionally, non-responders to anti-TNFα and anti-α4β7 therapy displayed distinct profiles of immune cells and pathways pertaining to inflammation, growth, and metabolism. We identified twenty resistant DEGs in UC non-responders to both therapies of which four had significant predictive power to treatment outcome. We demonstrated the global immune landscape and pathways in UC tissue, highlighting a unique UC signature across cohorts and a UC resistant signature with predictive performance to biologic therapy outcome.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized / pharmacology
  • Biological Therapy
  • Cohort Studies
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / genetics*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / immunology*
  • Colitis, Ulcerative / therapy
  • Datasets as Topic
  • Gene Expression Regulation*
  • Humans
  • Integrins / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Integrins / immunology
  • Leukocytes / immunology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Treatment Outcome
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / immunology


  • Antibodies, Monoclonal, Humanized
  • Integrins
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • integrin alpha4beta7
  • vedolizumab