Research progress of single-cell transcriptome sequencing in autoimmune diseases and autoinflammatory disease: A review

J Autoimmun. 2022 Dec;133:102919. doi: 10.1016/j.jaut.2022.102919. Epub 2022 Oct 12.


Autoimmunity refers to the phenomenon that the body's immune system produces antibodies or sensitized lymphocytes to its own tissues to cause an immune response. Immune disorders caused by autoimmunity can mediate autoimmune diseases. Autoimmune diseases have complicated pathogenesis due to the many types of cells involved, and the mechanism is still unclear. The emergence of single-cell research technology can solve the problem that ordinary transcriptome technology cannot be accurate to cell type. It provides unbiased results through independent analysis of cells in tissues and provides more mRNA information for identifying cell subpopulations, which provides a novel approach to study disruption of immune tolerance and disturbance of pro-inflammatory pathways on a cellular basis. It may fundamentally change the understanding of molecular pathways in the pathogenesis of autoimmune diseases and develop targeted drugs. Single-cell transcriptome sequencing (scRNA-seq) has been widely applied in autoimmune diseases, which provides a powerful tool for demonstrating the cellular heterogeneity of tissues involved in various immune inflammations, identifying pathogenic cell populations, and revealing the mechanism of disease occurrence and development. This review describes the principles of scRNA-seq, introduces common sequencing platforms and practical procedures, and focuses on the progress of scRNA-seq in 41 autoimmune diseases, which include 9 systemic autoimmune diseases and autoinflammatory diseases (rheumatoid arthritis, systemic lupus erythematosus, etc.) and 32 organ-specific autoimmune diseases (5 Skin diseases, 3 Nervous system diseases, 4 Eye diseases, 2 Respiratory system diseases, 2 Circulatory system diseases, 6 Liver, Gallbladder and Pancreas diseases, 2 Gastrointestinal system diseases, 3 Muscle, Bones and joint diseases, 3 Urinary system diseases, 2 Reproductive system diseases). This review also prospects the molecular mechanism targets of autoimmune diseases from the multi-molecular level and multi-dimensional analysis combined with single-cell multi-omics sequencing technology (such as scRNA-seq, Single cell ATAC-seq and single cell immune group library sequencing), which provides a reference for further exploring the pathogenesis and marker screening of autoimmune diseases and autoimmune inflammatory diseases in the future.

Keywords: Autoimmune diseases; Autoinflammatory diseases; Organ-based autoimmune diseases; Single-cell transcriptomic sequencing; Systemic autoimmune diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Autoimmune Diseases* / genetics
  • Hereditary Autoinflammatory Diseases*
  • Humans