D Kioroglou, J L Cabriada, U Martinez Marigorta, I Rodriguez-Lago. Journal of Crohn’s and Colitis, Volume 18, Issue Supplement_1, January 2024, Page i389,doi.org=10.1093/ecco-jcc/jjad212.0236

Granulocyte-monocyte apheresis (GMA) is a non-pharmacological treatment approved for the management of ulcerative colitis (UC), particularly steroid-dependent cases. The exact mechanism of action and immunological changes associated with GMA remain undescribed. Gene expression analysis at the single-cell level (through scRNA-Seq) has emerged as a key tool of choice to characterize drug response at the molecular level. We used scRNA-Seq to characterize the transcriptomic effects and immune cell population alterations in GMA.

We generated scRNA-Seq from peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMC) of two ulcerative colitis (UC) patients undergoing GMA treatment. We compared the gene expression profile before and after 5 sessions of GMA treatment. The analytical pipeline included quality control and classical filtering steps, cell-type annotation, differential gene expression analysis and pathway enrichment profiling.

We report three main results. First, we observed significant reductions of cell types directly affected by GMA treatment in UC patients. This includes classical CD14+ monocytes and Natural killers, which are central components of the innate system. Of note, we observed a remarkable increase in Double-negative T cells (dnT) after 5 sessions of GMA treatment, suggesting potential expansion of protective populations involved in decreased inflammation. Second, we observe a variety of genes and regulatory pathways altered by GMA treatment. In total, we detect 86 differentially expressed genes (DEGs), which overall are biased towards downregulation (63%). Of note, we detected dnT-s exhibiting upregulation of NEFL that is associated with the MAPK cascade and downregulation of genes related to immune response and signaling pathways. Finally, the effects of GMA treatment extend beyond the above mentioned populations, with particular alterations in CD4+ T cell populations such as CD4+ central memory and CD4+ Naive (7 and 13 DEGs, respectively).

For the first time, we generated single-cell transcriptomic profiles to characterize the effects of GMA treatment in peripheral blood of UC patients. Our preliminary analysis detects important alterations in the gene regulation and cell type composition in samples obtained after 5 sessions of GMA. Through expansion of this dataset to include more time points and profiles for more individuals, we will discuss the longitudinal changes and molecular mechanisms involved in response to GMA treatment.