Is gene expression among women with rheumatoid arthritis dysregulated during a postpartum flare?
BACKGROUND:To evaluate our hypotheses that, when rheumatoid arthritis (RA) flares postpartum, gene expression patterns are altered compared to (a) healthy women, (b) RA women whose disease activity is low or in remission postpartum, and (c) pre-pregnancy expression profiles. METHODS:Twelve women with RA and five healthy women were included in this pilot study. RA disease activity and postpartum flare were assessed using the Clinical Disease Activity Index (CDAI). Total RNA from frozen whole blood was used for RNA sequencing. Differential gene expression within the same women (within-group) over time, i.e., postpartum vs. third trimester (T3) or pre-pregnancy (T0), were examined, using a significance threshold of qâ€‰<â€‰0.05 and fold-changeâ€‰â‰¥â€‰2. RESULTS:women. CONCLUSIONS:The large majority of gene expression changes between T3 and 3â€‰months postpartum among RA women who flared postpartum reflected normal postpartum changes also seen among healthy women. Nonetheless, during a postpartum flare, a set of immune-related genes showed dysregulated expression compared to healthy women and women with RA whose disease activity was low or in remission during the same time frame, while other genes demonstrated significant differences in expression compared to RA pre-pregnancy levels.