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Gene expression profiling in patients with polymyalgia rheumatica before and after symptom-abolishing glucocorticoid treatment

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BACKGROUND: The pathophysiology, including the impact of gene expression, of polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR) remains elusive. We profiled the gene expression in muscle tissue in PMR patients before and after glucocorticoid treatment.

METHODS: Gene expression was measured using Affymetrix Human Genome U133 Plus 2.0 arrays in muscle biopsies from 8 glucocorticoid-naive patients with PMR and 10 controls before and after prednisolone-treatment for 14 days. For 14 genes, quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR, n = 9 in both groups) was used to validate the microarray findings and to further investigate the expression of genes of particular interest.

RESULTS: Prednisolone normalized erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) and C-reactive protein (CRP) in PMR patients. A total of 165 putatively clinically relevant, differentially expressed genes were identified (cut-off: fold difference > ±1.2, difference of mean > 30, and p < 0.05); of these, 78 genes differed between patients and controls before treatment, 131 genes responded to treatment in a given direction only in patients, and 44 fulfilled both these criteria. In 43 of the 44 genes, treatment counteracted the initial difference. Functional clustering identified themes of biological function, including regulation of protein biosynthesis, and regulation of transcription and of extracellular matrix processes. Overall, qRT-PCR confirmed the microarray findings: Microarray-detected group differences were confirmed for 9 genes in 17 of 18 comparisons (same magnitude and direction of change); lack of group differences in microarray testing was confirmed for 5 genes in 8 of 10 comparisons. Before treatment, using qRT-PCR, expression of interleukin 6 (IL-6) was found to be 4-fold higher in patients (p < 0.05).

CONCLUSIONS: This study identifies genes in muscle, the expression of which may impact the pathophysiology of PMR. Moreover, the study adds further evidence of the importance of IL-6 in the disease. Follow-up studies are needed to establish the exact pathophysiological relevance of the identified genes. The study was retrospectively listed on the ISRCTN registry with study ID ISRCTN69503018 and date of registration the 26th of July 2017.

Original languageEnglish
JournalBMC Musculoskeletal Disorders
Volume18
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)341
ISSN1471-2474
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 7 Aug 2017

    Research areas

  • Journal Article

ID: 52387436