Gene expression signatures of target tissues in type 1 diabetes, lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis

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Science Advances  06 Jan 2021:
Vol. 7, no. 2, eabd7600
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abd7600


Autoimmune diseases are typically studied with a focus on the immune system, and less attention is paid to responses of target tissues exposed to the immune assault. We presently evaluated, based on available RNA sequencing data, whether inflammation induces similar molecular signatures at the target tissues in type 1 diabetes, systemic lupus erythematosus, multiple sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. We identified confluent signatures, many related to interferon signaling, indicating pathways that may be targeted for therapy, and observed a high (>80%) expression of candidate genes for the different diseases at the target tissue level. These observations suggest that future research on autoimmune diseases should focus on both the immune system and the target tissues, and on their dialog. Discovering similar disease-specific signatures may allow the identification of key pathways that could be targeted for therapy, including the repurposing of drugs already in clinical use for other diseases.

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