Age, Sex, and Genetics Influence the Abundance of Infiltrating Immune Cells in Human Tissues

Andrew R. Marderstein, Manik Uppal, Akanksha Verma, Bhavneet Bhinder, Jason Mezey, Andrew G. Clark, Olivier Elemento

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May 15, 2019

Received Date 27th April 19

Despite infiltrating immune cells playing an essential role in human disease and the patient response to treatment, the central mechanisms influencing variability in infiltration patterns are unclear. Using bulk RNA-seq data from 53 GTEx tissues, we applied cell-type deconvolution algorithms to evaluate the immune landscape across the healthy human body. We first performed a differential expression analysis of inflamed versus non-inflamed samples to identify essential pathways and regulators of infiltration. Next, we found 21 of 73 infiltration-related phenotypes to be associated with either age or sex (FDR < 0.1). Through our genetic analysis, we discovered 13 infiltration-related phenotypes have genome-wide significant associations (iQTLs) (P < 5.0 x 10-8), with a significant enrichment of tissue-specific expression quantitative trait loci in suggested iQTLs (P < 10-5). We highlight an association between neutrophil content in lung tissue and a variant near the CUX1 transcription factor gene (P = 9.7 x 10-11), which has been previously linked to neutrophil infiltration, inflammatory mechanisms, and the regulation of several immune response genes. Together, our results identify key factors influencing inter-individual variability of specific tissue infiltration patterns, which could provide insights on therapeutic targets for shifting infiltration profiles to a more favorable one.

Read in full at bioRxiv.

This is an abstract of a preprint hosted on an independent third party site. It has not been peer reviewed but is currently under consideration at Nature Communications.

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Nature Communications

Nature Research, Springer Nature