Publicly available ulcerative colitis (UC) gene expression datasets from observational studies and clinical trials include inherently heterogeneous disease characteristics and methodology. We used meta-analysis to identify a robust UC gene signature from inflamed biopsies. Eight gene expression datasets derived from biopsy tissue samples from noninflammatory bowel disease (IBD) controls and areas of active inflammation from patients with UC were publicly available. Expression- and meta-data were downloaded with GEOquery. Differentially expressed genes (DEG) in individual datasets were defined as those with fold change > 1.5 and a Benjamini-Hochberg adjusted P value < .05. Meta-analysis of all DEG used a random effects model. Reactome pathway enrichment analysis was conducted. Meta-analysis identified 946 up- and 543 down-regulated genes in patients with UC compared to non-IBD controls (1.2 and 1.7 times fewer up- and down-regulated genes than the median of the individual datasets). Top-ranked up- and down-regulated DEG were LCN2 and AQP8. Multiple immune-related pathways (e.g., ‘Chemokine receptors bind chemokine’ and ‘Interleukin-10 signaling’) were significantly up-regulated in UC, while ‘Biological oxidations’ and ‘Fatty acid metabolism’ were downregulated. A web-based data-mining tool with the meta-analysis results was made available ( https://premedibd.com/genes.html ). A UC inflamed biopsy disease gene signature was derived. This signature may be an unbiased reference for comparison and improve the efficiency of UC biomarker studies by increasing confidence for identification of disease-related genes and pathways.


IBD, Ulcerative Colitis

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