Step by step one goes very far
Project context and summary :
Anti-TNF therapy has revolutionized treatment of many chronic inflammatory diseases, including rheumatoid arthritis, Crohn’s disease and spondyloarthritis (SpA). However, clinical efficacy of TNF-inhibitors (TNFi) is limited by a high rate of non-responsiveness (30-40%) both in SpA and other diseases, exposing a substantial fraction of patients to important side-effects without any clinical benefit. Despite the extensive use of TNFi since many years, it is still not possible to determine which patients will respond to TNFi before treatment initiation. In this study, we have tested the hypothesis that the functional analysis of immune responses may not only improve our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of TNF-blocker activity, but also identify correlates of therapeutic responses in SpA patients. To facilitate the potential translation of our findings into a clinical setting, we have used standardized whole-blood stimulation assays (“TruCulture” assays, Duffy et al., Immunity 2014), and have minimized sources of pre-analytical variability, implementing a highly sensitive and robust pipeline to assess immune functions in patients. To investigate the concept that the immune status of a patient will define their response to TNFi treatment, we have used machine-learning algorithms to identify, in whole-blood stimulation assays, immunological transcripts that correlate with clinical efficacy of TNFi. Our results obtained with a cohort of 67 SpA patients demonstrate that high expression, before treatment initiation, of molecules associated with leukocyte invasion/migration and inflammatory processes predisposes to favorable outcome of anti-TNF therapy, while high-level expression of cytotoxic molecules was associated with poor therapeutic responses to TNF-blockers. These findings may suggest that SpA patients whose immune response is characterized by strong, NF-kB-mediated inflammation are more likely to benefit from TNFi treatment than patients with an active T/NK-cell component. Unfortunately our manuscript describing these results has been rejected by Nature Medicine. However, in her letter the editor mentioned, “Should future experimental data allow you to demonstrate that the identified gene signatures predict response to treatment and outperform previously reported approaches in an independent cohort, we would be happy to look at a new submission…”. We have recruited additional SpA patients over the summer and we are currently in the process of performing the gene expression analysis. The goal of this bioinformatic analysis will be to identify transcripts in stimulated immune cells that predict therapeutic outcome in a training set of patients using machine-learning algorithms and validate the findings in a replication cohort.Related team publications :
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