Background: Immunosuppressive and anti-cytokine treatment may have a protective effect for patients with COVID-19. Understanding the immune cell states shared between COVID-19 and other inflammatory diseases with established therapies may help nominate immunomodulatory therapies.
Methods: To identify cellular phenotypes that may be shared across tissues affected by disparate inflammatory diseases, we developed a meta-analysis and integration pipeline that models and removes the effects of technology, tissue of origin, and donor that confound cell-type identification. Using this approach, we integrated > 300,000 single-cell transcriptomic profiles from COVID-19-affected lungs and tissues from healthy subjects and patients with five inflammatory diseases: rheumatoid arthritis (RA), Crohn's disease (CD), ulcerative colitis (UC), systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), and interstitial lung disease. We tested the association of shared immune states with severe/inflamed status compared to healthy control using mixed-effects modeling. To define environmental factors within these tissues that shape shared macrophage phenotypes, we stimulated human blood-derived macrophages with defined combinations of inflammatory factors, emphasizing in particular antiviral interferons IFN-beta (IFN-β) and IFN-gamma (IFN-γ), and pro-inflammatory cytokines such as TNF.
Results: We built an immune cell reference consisting of > 300,000 single-cell profiles from 125 healthy or disease-affected donors from COVID-19 and five inflammatory diseases. We observed a CXCL10+ CCL2+ inflammatory macrophage state that is shared and strikingly abundant in severe COVID-19 bronchoalveolar lavage samples, inflamed RA synovium, inflamed CD ileum, and UC colon. These cells exhibited a distinct arrangement of pro-inflammatory and interferon response genes, including elevated levels of CXCL10, CXCL9, CCL2, CCL3, GBP1, STAT1, and IL1B. Further, we found this macrophage phenotype is induced upon co-stimulation by IFN-γ and TNF-α.
Conclusions: Our integrative analysis identified immune cell states shared across inflamed tissues affected by inflammatory diseases and COVID-19. Our study supports a key role for IFN-γ together with TNF-α in driving an abundant inflammatory macrophage phenotype in severe COVID-19-affected lungs, as well as inflamed RA synovium, CD ileum, and UC colon, which may be targeted by existing immunomodulatory therapies.
Multimodal T cell profiling can enable more precise characterization of elusive cell states underlying disease. Here, we integrated single-cell RNA and surface protein data from 500,089 memory T cells to define 31 cell states from 259 individuals in a Peruvian tuberculosis (TB) progression cohort. At immune steady state >4 years after infection and disease resolution, we found that, after accounting for significant effects of age, sex, season and genetic ancestry on T cell composition, a polyfunctional type 17 helper T (TH17) cell-like effector state was reduced in abundance and function in individuals who previously progressed from Mycobacterium tuberculosis (M.tb) infection to active TB disease. These cells are capable of responding to M.tb peptides. Deconvoluting this state-uniquely identifiable with multimodal analysis-from public data demonstrated that its depletion may precede and persist beyond active disease. Our study demonstrates the power of integrative multimodal single-cell profiling to define cell states relevant to disease and other traits.
Summary Background Juvenile idiopathic arthritis (JIA) is a heterogeneous disease, the signs and symptoms of which can be summarised with use of composite disease activity measures, including the clinical Juvenile Arthritis Disease Activity Score (cJADAS). However, clusters of children and young people might experience different global patterns in their signs and symptoms of disease, which might run in parallel or diverge over time. We aimed to identify such clusters in the 3 years after a diagnosis of JIA. The identification of these clusters would allow for a greater understanding of disease progression in JIA, including how physician-reported and patient-reported outcomes relate to each other over the JIA disease course. Methods In this multicentre prospective longitudinal study, we included children and young people recruited before Jan 1, 2015, to the Childhood Arthritis Prospective Study (CAPS), a UK multicentre inception cohort. Participants without a cJADAS score were excluded. To assess groups of children and young people with similar disease patterns in active joint count, physician's global assessment, and patient or parental global evaluation, we used latent profile analysis at initial presentation to paediatric rheumatology and multivariate group-based trajectory models for the following 3 years. Optimal models were selected on the basis of a combination of model fit, clinical plausibility, and model parsimony. Finding Between Jan 1, 2001, and Dec 31, 2014, 1423 children and young people with JIA were recruited to CAPS, 239 of whom were excluded, resulting in a final study population of 1184 children and young people. We identified five clusters at baseline and six trajectory groups using longitudinal follow-up data. Disease course was not well predicted from clusters at baseline; however, in both cross-sectional and longitudinal analyses, substantial proportions of children and young people had high patient or parent global scores despite low or improving joint counts and physician global scores. Participants in these groups were older, and a higher proportion of them had enthesitis-related JIA and lower socioeconomic status, compared with those in other groups. Interpretation Almost one in four children and young people with JIA in our study reported persistent, high patient or parent global scores despite having low or improving active joint counts and physician's global scores. Distinct patient subgroups defined by disease manifestation or trajectories of progression could help to better personalise health-care services and treatment plans for individuals with JIA. Funding Medical Research Council, Versus Arthritis, Great Ormond Street Hospital Children's Charity, Olivia's Vision, and National Institute for Health Research.
The complement pathway represents one of the critical arms of the innate immune system. We combined genome-wide and phenome-wide association studies using medical records data for C3 and C4 levels to discover common genetic variants controlling systemic complement activation. Three genome-wide significant loci had large effects on complement levels. These loci encode three critical complement genes: CFH, C3, and C4. We performed detailed functional annotations of the significant loci, including multiallelic copy number variant analysis of the C4 locus to define two structural genomic variants with large effects on C4 levels. Blood C4 levels were strongly correlated with the copy number of C4A and C4B genes. Lastly, using genome-wide genetic correlations and electronic health records–based phenome-wide association studies in 102,138 participants, we catalogued a spectrum of human diseases genetically related to systemic complement activation, including inflammatory, autoimmune, cardiometabolic, and kidney diseases.Background Genetic variants in complement genes have been associated with a wide range of human disease states, but well-powered genetic association studies of complement activation have not been performed in large multiethnic cohorts.Methods We performed medical records–based genome-wide and phenome-wide association studies for plasma C3 and C4 levels among participants of the Electronic Medical Records and Genomics (eMERGE) network.Results In a GWAS for C3 levels in 3949 individuals, we detected two genome-wide significant loci: chr.1q31.3 (CFH locus; rs3753396-A; β=0.20; 95% CI, 0.14 to 0.25; P=1.52x10-11) and chr.19p13.3 (C3 locus; rs11569470-G; β=0.19; 95% CI, 0.13 to 0.24; P=1.29x10-8). These two loci explained approximately 2% of variance in C3 levels. GWAS for C4 levels involved 3998 individuals and revealed a genome-wide significant locus at chr.6p21.32 (C4 locus; rs3135353-C; β=0.40; 95% CI, 0.34 to 0.45; P=4.58x10-35). This locus explained approximately 13% of variance in C4 levels. The multiallelic copy number variant analysis defined two structural genomic C4 variants with large effect on blood C4 levels: C4-BS (β=-0.36; 95% CI, -0.42 to -0.30; P=2.98x10-22) and C4-AL-BS (β=0.25; 95% CI, 0.21 to 0.29; P=8.11x10-23). Overall, C4 levels were strongly correlated with copy numbers of C4A and C4B genes. In comprehensive phenome-wide association studies involving 102,138 eMERGE participants, we cataloged a full spectrum of autoimmune, cardiometabolic, and kidney diseases genetically related to systemic complement activation.Conclusions We discovered genetic determinants of plasma C3 and C4 levels using eMERGE genomic data linked to electronic medical records. Genetic variants regulating C3 and C4 levels have large effects and multiple clinical correlations across the spectrum of complement-related diseases in humans.
Many diseases exhibit population-specific causal effect sizes with trans-ethnic genetic correlations significantly less than 1, limiting trans-ethnic polygenic risk prediction. We develop a new method, S-LDXR, for stratifying squared trans-ethnic genetic correlation across genomic annotations, and apply S-LDXR to genome-wide summary statistics for 31 diseases and complex traits in East Asians (average N = 90K) and Europeans (average N = 267K) with an average trans-ethnic genetic correlation of 0.85. We determine that squared trans-ethnic genetic correlation is 0.82× (s.e. 0.01) depleted in the top quintile of background selection statistic, implying more population-specific causal effect sizes. Accordingly, causal effect sizes are more population-specific in functionally important regions, including conserved and regulatory regions. In regions surrounding specifically expressed genes, causal effect sizes are most population-specific for skin and immune genes, and least population-specific for brain genes. Our results could potentially be explained by stronger gene-environment interaction at loci impacted by selection, particularly positive selection.
The recent development of imputation methods enabled the prediction of human leukocyte antigen (HLA) alleles from intergenic SNP data, allowing studies to fine-map HLA for immune phenotypes. Here we report an accurate HLA imputation method, CookHLA, which has superior imputation accuracy compared to previous methods. CookHLA differs from other approaches in that it locally embeds prediction markers into highly polymorphic exons to account for exonic variability, and in that it adaptively learns the genetic map within MHC from the data to facilitate imputation. Our benchmarking with real datasets shows that our method achieves high imputation accuracy in a wide range of scenarios, including situations where the reference panel is small or ethnically unmatched.
Inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the gut. Genetic association studies have identified the highly variable human leukocyte antigen (HLA) region as the strongest susceptibility locus for IBD and specifically DRB1*01:03 as a determining factor for ulcerative colitis (UC). However, for most of the association signal such as delineation could not be made because of tight structures of linkage disequilibrium within the HLA. The aim of this study was therefore to further characterize the HLA signal using a transethnic approach. We performed a comprehensive fine mapping of single HLA alleles in UC in a cohort of 9272 individuals with African American, East Asian, Puerto Rican, Indian and Iranian descent and 40 691 previously analyzed Caucasians, additionally analyzing whole HLA haplotypes. We computationally characterized the binding of associated HLA alleles to human self-peptides and analyzed the physicochemical properties of the HLA proteins and predicted self-peptidomes. Highlighting alleles of the HLA-DRB1*15 group and their correlated HLA-DQ-DR haplotypes, we not only identified consistent associations (regarding effects directions/magnitudes) across different ethnicities but also identified population-specific signals (regarding differences in allele frequencies). We observed that DRB1*01:03 is mostly present in individuals of Western European descent and hardly present in non-Caucasian individuals. We found peptides predicted to bind to risk HLA alleles to be rich in positively charged amino acids. We conclude that the HLA plays an important role for UC susceptibility across different ethnicities. This research further implicates specific features of peptides that are predicted to bind risk and protective HLA proteins.
As advances in single-cell technologies enable the unbiased assay of thousands of cells simultaneously, human disease studies are able to identify clinically associated cell states using case-control study designs. These studies require precious clinical samples and costly technologies; therefore, it is critical to employ study design principles that maximize power to detect cell state frequency shifts between conditions, such as disease versus healthy. Here, we present single-cell Power Simulation Tool (scPOST), a method that enables users to estimate power under different study designs. To approximate the specific experimental and clinical scenarios being investigated, scPOST takes prototype (public or pilot) single-cell data as input and generates large numbers of single-cell datasets in silico. We use scPOST to perform power analyses on three independent single-cell datasets that span diverse experimental conditions: a batch-corrected 21-sample rheumatoid arthritis dataset (5,265 cells) from synovial tissue, a 259-sample tuberculosis progression dataset (496,517 memory T cells) from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs), and a 30-sample ulcerative colitis dataset (235,229 cells) from intestinal biopsies. Over thousands of simulations, we consistently observe that power to detect frequency shifts in cell states is maximized by larger numbers of independent clinical samples, reduced batch effects, and smaller variation in a cell state’s frequency across samples.