Volume 10 Supplement 2

Canadian Society of Allergy and Clinical Immunology and AllerGen Abstracts 2014

Open Access

Uncovering T cell-specific differential expression patterns associated with pollen exposure in individuals with allergic rhinitis

  • Chen Xi Yang1Email author,
  • Casey P Shannon1, 3,
  • Amrit Singh1,
  • Anne K Ellis2 and
  • Scott J Tebbutt1, 3
Allergy, Asthma & Clinical Immunology201410(Suppl 2):A66


Published: 18 December 2014


Investigating transcriptomics in whole blood is a promising avenue of research for helping to understand the allergic response [1]. However, the heterogeneity of peripheral whole blood significantly complicates the interpretation of whole blood expression data. Statistical deconvolution approaches, which can model and infer the sample composition and the cell type-specific expression, may provide a powerful means of studying complex tissues, such as whole blood, in an integrated fashion [2].


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    individuals with allergic rhinitis were simultaneously exposed to ragweed pollen in the Environmental Exposure Unit. Peripheral blood samples were collected using PAXgene Blood RNA tubes before and after the 3 hours of pollen exposure. Gene expression profiling was performed using Affymetrix GeneChip® Human Gene 1.0 ST Arrays. Publicly available expression data (E-GEOD-48558) was used to estimate the cellular composition from whole blood expression profiles. The estimated proportions were compared against those measured by an automated hematology analyzer.



The estimated proportions of lymphocytes, granulocytes and monocytes were compared against the observed proportions. The prediction was good in lymphocytes (R2=0.70, RMSE=0.036) and granulocytes (R2=0.75, RMSE= 0.046), but relatively poor in monocytes (R2=0.52, RMSE=0.030). No significant changes in cellular proportions between pre-challenge and post-challenge samples were identified. 261 (110 up-regulated and 151 down-regulated) differentially expressed probe sets were identified comparing pre and post-challenge samples at a false discovery rate (FDR) of 10%.


Statistical deconvolution is accurate in predicting the cellular proportions of lymphocytes and granulocytes but relatively poor in predicting monocytes. Allergen exposure causes significant changes in the blood transcriptomes of participants with allergic rhinitis undergoing pollen exposure. The inferred proportions will be used for cell type-specific significance analysis of microarrays (csSAM), to assess differential expression in T cells. The CD4+ T cell expression profiles from E-GEOD-43497, a similar study of allergic rhinitis, will be used to validate our findings.

Authors’ Affiliations

UBC James Hogg Research Centre and Centre for Heart + Lung Innovation, University of British Columbia
Kingston General Hospital and Queen’s University
Prevention of Organ Failure (PROOF) Centre of Excellence


  1. Chaussabel D, Pascual V, Banchereau J: Assessing the human immune system through blood transcriptomics. BMC biology. 2010, 8: 84-10.1186/1741-7007-8-84.PubMed CentralView ArticlePubMedGoogle Scholar
  2. Shen-Orr SS, Tibshirani R, Khatri P, Bodian DL, Staedtler F: Cell type–specific gene expression differences in complex tissues. Nat Meth. 2010, 7: 287-289. 10.1038/nmeth.1439.View ArticleGoogle Scholar


© Yang et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd. 2014

This article is published under license to BioMed Central Ltd. This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited. The Creative Commons Public Domain Dedication waiver (http://creativecommons.org/publicdomain/zero/1.0/) applies to the data made available in this article, unless otherwise stated.