Identification of new candidate drugs for primary Sjögren's syndrome using a drug repurposing transcriptomic approach

Rheumatology (Oxford). 2023 Nov 2;62(11):3715-3723. doi: 10.1093/rheumatology/kead096.


Objectives: To date, no immunomodulatory drug has demonstrated its efficacy in primary SS (pSS). We sought to analyse potential commonalities between pSS transcriptomic signatures and signatures of various drugs or specific knock-in or knock-down genes.

Methods: Gene expression from peripheral blood samples of patients with pSS was compared with that of healthy controls in two cohorts and three public databases. In each of the five datasets, we analysed the 150 most up- and downregulated genes between pSS patients and controls with regard to the differentially expressed genes resulting from the biological action on nine cell lines of 2837 drugs, 2160 knock-in and 3799 knock-down genes in the Connectivity Map database.

Results: We analysed 1008 peripheral blood transcriptomes from five independent studies (868 patients with pSS and 140 healthy controls). Eleven drugs could represent potential candidate drugs, with histone deacetylases and PI3K inhibitors among the most significantly associated. Twelve knock-in genes were associated with a pSS-like profile and 23 knock-down genes were associated with a pSS-revert profile. Most of those genes (28/35, 80%) were interferon-regulated.

Conclusion: This first drug repositioning transcriptomic approach in SS confirms the interest of targeting interferons and identifies histone deacetylases and PI3K inhibitors as potential therapeutic targets.

Keywords: IFNs; SS; clue; drug repurposing; histone deacetylase inhibitors; therapeutics; transcriptomic signature.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Drug Repositioning
  • Histone Deacetylases / genetics
  • Humans
  • Interferons / genetics
  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases / genetics
  • Sjogren's Syndrome* / drug therapy
  • Sjogren's Syndrome* / genetics
  • Transcriptome


  • Phosphatidylinositol 3-Kinases
  • Interferons
  • Histone Deacetylases