RNA-seq Reveals Transcriptomic Differences in Inflamed and Noninflamed Intestinal Mucosa of Crohn's Disease Patients Compared with Normal Mucosa of Healthy Controls

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Background:Aberrant gene expression in the gut mucosa might contribute to the initiation and progression of Crohn's disease (CD). RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) provides precise measurements of expression levels of transcripts and their isoforms. The aim of this study was to use RNA-seq to investigate transcriptomic differences and identify significantly differentially expressed transcripts in inflamed and noninflamed intestinal mucosa of CD patients.Methods:RNA-seq was performed on 13 pairs of inflamed and noninflamed intestinal mucosa from 13 CD patients and on sex-matched normal mucosa of 13 healthy controls. Significantly differentially expressed transcripts were validated by immunohistochemistry, quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction, and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay.Results:RNA-seq revealed genome-wide transcriptomic differences between normal mucosa, noninflamed, and inflamed CD mucosa. Among 950 differentially expressed genes, 19 were up- or downregulated (upregulation: ANGPT2, CHN1, CPXM1, CPZ, CXCL1, FCN3, GJC1, HSD11B1, LZTS1, MEOX1, MMP12, PLA1A, SERPINE1, SGIP1, and TRPC4; downregulation: FAM189A1, PDE6A, SLC38A4, and HMGCS2) with statistical significance (p < 0.01 and q < 0.05). Among them, CXCL1 exhibited the highest fold change between groups. Immunohistochemistry for CXCL1 revealed no expression in normal mucosa, slightly increased expression in noninflamed CD mucosa, and highly increased expression in inflamed CD mucosa. Quantitative reverse transcriptase polymerase chain reaction showed that CXCL1 expression was significantly associated with epithelial damage, increased infiltration of polymorphonuclear leukocytes, and submucosal fibrosis. Serum CXCL1 concentration measured by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay was better correlated with CD activity index (r = 0.660) than with C-reactive protein (r = 0.204).Conclusions:RNA-seq revealed transcriptomic differences between normal mucosa, noninflamed CD mucosa, and inflamed CD mucosa. Intestinal and serum CXCL1 was substantially increased with CD activity and can be used as a potential biomarker of CD.

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