Gene network approach reveals co-expression patterns in nasal and bronchial epithelium

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Nasal gene expression profiling is a new approach to investigate the airway epithelium as a biomarker to study the activity and treatment responses of obstructive pulmonary diseases. We investigated to what extent gene expression profiling of nasal brushings is similar to that of bronchial brushings. We performed genome wide gene expression profiling on matched nasal and bronchial epithelial brushes from 77 respiratory healthy individuals. To investigate differences and similarities among regulatory modules, network analysis was performed on correlated, differentially expressed and smoking-related genes using Gaussian Graphical Models. Between nasal and bronchial brushes, 619 genes were correlated and 1692 genes were differentially expressed (false discovery rate <0.05, |Fold-change|>2). Network analysis of correlated genes showed pro-inflammatory pathways to be similar between the two locations. Focusing on smoking-related genes, cytochrome-P450 pathway related genes were found to be similar, supporting the concept of a detoxifying response to tobacco exposure throughout the airways. In contrast, cilia-related pathways were decreased in nasal compared to bronchial brushes when focusing on differentially expressed genes. Collectively, while there are substantial differences in gene expression between nasal and bronchial brushes, we also found similarities, especially in the response to the external factors such as smoking.

Original languageEnglish
Article number15835
Number of pages13
JournalScientific Reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1-Nov-2019

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