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PLoS One. 2010 Sep 30;5(9). pii: e13085. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0013085.

Gene expression changes associated with resistance to intravenous corticosteroid therapy in children with severe ulcerative colitis.

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Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.



Microarray analysis of RNA expression allows gross examination of pathways operative in inflammation. We aimed to determine whether genes expressed in whole blood early following initiation of intravenous corticosteroid treatment can be associated with response.


From a prospectively accrued cohort of 128 pediatric patients hospitalized for intravenous corticosteroid treatment of severe UC, we selected for analysis 20 corticosteroid responsive (hospital discharge or PUCAI ≤45 by day 5) and 20 corticosteroid resistant patients (need for second line medical therapy or colectomy, or PUCAI >45 by day 5). Total RNA was extracted from blood samples collected on day 3 of intravenous corticosteroid therapy. The eluted transcriptomes were quantified on Affymetrix Human Gene 1.0 ST arrays. The data was analysed by the local-pooled error method for discovery of differential gene expression and false discovery rate correction was applied to adjust for multiple comparisons.


A total of 41 genes differentially expressed between responders and non-responders were detected with statistical significance. Two of these genes, CEACAM1 and MMP8, possibly inhibited by methylprednisolone through IL8, were both found to be over-expressed in non-responsive patients. ABCC4 (MRP4) as a member of the multi-drug resistance superfamily was a novel candidate gene for corticosteroid resistance. The expression pattern of a cluster of 10 genes selected from the 41 significant hits were able to classify the patients with 80% sensitivity and 80% specificity.


Elevated expression of several genes involved in inflammatory pathways was associated with resistance to intravenous corticosteroid therapy early in the course of treatment. Gene expression profiles may be useful to classify resistance to intravenous corticosteroids in children with severe UC and assist with clinical management decisions.

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