Investigating Immune Gene Signatures in Peripheral Blood from Subjects with Allergic Rhinitis Undergoing Nasal Allergen Challenge
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Nasal allergen challenge (NAC) is a human model of allergic rhinitis (AR) that delivers standardized allergens locally to the nasal mucosa allowing clinical symptoms and biospecimens such as peripheral blood to be collected. Although many studies have focused on local inflammatory sites, peripheral blood, an important mediator and a component of the systemic immune response, has not been well studied in the setting of AR. We sought to investigate immune gene signatures in peripheral blood collected after NAC under the setting of AR. Clinical symptoms and peripheral blood samples from AR subjects were collected during NAC. Fuzzy c-means clustering method was used to identify immune gene expression patterns in blood over time points (before NAC and 1, 2, and 6 h after NAC). We identified and validated seven clusters of differentially expressed immune genes after NAC onset. Clusters 2, 3, and 4 were associated with neutrophil and lymphocyte frequencies and neutrophil/lymphocyte ratio after the allergen challenge. The patterns of the clusters and immune cell frequencies were associated with the clinical symptoms of the AR subjects and were significantly different from healthy nonallergic subjects who had also undergone NAC. Our approach identified dynamic signatures of immune gene expression in blood as a systemic immune response associated with clinical symptoms after NAC. The immune gene signatures may allow cross-sectional investigation of the pathophysiology of AR and may also be useful as a potential objective measurement for diagnosis and treatment of AR combined with the NAC model.
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