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Semin Immunol. 2015 Feb;27(1):58-66. doi: 10.1016/j.smim.2015.03.002. Epub 2015 Mar 29.

Assessment of immune status using blood transcriptomics and potential implications for global health.

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Sidra Medical and Research Center, Doha, Qatar. Electronic address:


The immune system plays a key role in health maintenance and pathogenesis of a wide range of diseases. Leukocytes that are present in the blood convey valuable information about the status of the immune system. Blood transcriptomics, which consists in profiling blood transcript abundance on genome-wide scales, has gained in popularity over the past several years. Indeed, practicality and simplicity largely makes up for what this approach may lack in terms of cell population-level resolution. An extensive survey of the literature reveals increasingly widespread use across virtually all fields of medicine as well as across a number of different animal species, including model organisms but also animals of economical importance. Dissemination across such a wide range of disciplines holds the promise of adding a new perspective, breadth or context, to the considerable depth afforded by whole genome profiling of blood transcript abundance. Indeed, it is only through such contextualization that a truly global perspective will be gained from the use of systems approaches. Also discussed are opportunities that may arise for the fields of immunology and medicine from using blood transcriptomics as a common denominator for developing interactions and cooperation across fields of research that have traditionally been and largely remain compartmentalized. Finally, an argument is made for building immunology research capacity using blood transcriptomics platforms in low-resource and high-disease burden settings.


Blood; Genomics; Omics; Systems immunology; Transcriptome

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