Systemic Sclerosis May Be Caused by Common Pathologic Clusters in Different Tissues

Researchers investigated the common and tissue-specific pathways involved in the different tissues of patients with systemic sclerosis.

Common pathologic clusters may contribute to the development of systemic sclerosis (SSc) in different tissues, according to study results published in BMC Medical Genomics

According to the researchers, the pathogenesis of SSc remains unknown and is difficult to identify due to the involvement of multiple organs in this disease. The objective of this study was to investigate and identify the shared and tissue-specific pathways involved in different tissues in SSc.

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Researchers performed integrative gene expression analysis of 10 microarray datasets of tissues from the lungs, peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC), and skin to identify differentially expressed genes (DEGs). Researchers then mapped DEGs to the search tool for retrieval of interacting genes to integrate known and predicted protein-protein interaction networks and to seek potential interactions between DEGs and different tissues. They used the Enrichr tool to perform pathway enrichment analyses for clusters obtained from different tissues.

Results revealed that the protein-protein interaction networks were used to identify, 12, 2, and 4 functional clusters from 619, 52, and 119 DEGs in the lung, PBMC, and skin tissues, respectively. Results also showed that the tumor necrosis factor signaling pathway was enriched significantly as a common pathway in the lung, PBMC, and skin tissues. Clusters that correlated with inflammatory and immune responses were also common in these 3 tissues, though clusters that correlated with fibrosis were common in only the lung and skin tissues.

“Based on the current results, it seems that common [pathologic] pathways contribute to the pathogenesis of SSc in different tissues. However, tissue type may make it susceptible to the initiation of more complicated pathways,” the researchers concluded.


Karimizadeh E, Sharifi-Zarchi A, Nikaein H, et al. Analysis of gene expression profiles and protein-protein interaction networks in multiple tissues of systemic sclerosis. BMC Med Genomics. 2019;12(1):199.