Interindividual Variability in Lymphocyte Stimulation and Transcriptomic Response Predicts Mycophenolic Acid Sensitivity in Healthy Volunteers

Kimberly S. Collins, Ying Hua Cheng, Ricardo M. Ferreira, Hongyu Gao, Matthew D. Dollins, Danielle Janosevic, Nida A. Khan, Chloe White, Pierre C. Dagher, Michael T. Eadon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mycophenolic acid (MPA) is an immunosuppressant commonly used to prevent renal transplant rejection and treat glomerulonephritis. MPA inhibits IMPDH2 within stimulated lymphocytes, reducing guanosine synthesis. Despite the widespread use of MPA, interindividual variability in response remains with rates of allograft rejection up to 15% and approximately half of individuals fail to achieve complete remission to lupus nephritis. We sought to identify contributors to interindividual variability in MPA response, hypothesizing that the HPRT1 salvage guanosine synthesis contributes to variability. MPA sensitivity was measured in 40 healthy individuals using an ex vivo lymphocyte viability assay. Measurement of candidate gene expression (n = 40) and single-cell RNA-sequencing (n = 6) in lymphocytes was performed at baseline, poststimulation, and post-MPA treatment. After stimulation, HPRT1 expression was 2.1-fold higher in resistant individuals compared with sensitive individuals (P = 0.049). Knockdown of HPRT1 increased MPA sensitivity (12%; P = 0.003), consistent with higher expression levels in resistant individuals. Sensitive individuals had higher IMPDH2 expression and 132% greater stimulation. In lymphocyte subpopulations, differentially expressed genes between sensitive and resistant individuals included KLF2 and LTB. Knockdown of KLF2 and LTB aligned with the predicted direction of effect on proliferation. In sensitive individuals, more frequent receptor-ligand interactions were observed after stimulation (P = 0.0004), but fewer interactions remained after MPA treatment (P = 0.0014). These data identify a polygenic transcriptomic signature in lymphocyte subpopulations predictive of MPA response. The degree of lymphocyte stimulation, HPRT1, KLF2, and LTB expression may serve as markers of MPA efficacy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalClinical and translational science
StateAccepted/In press - 2020

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
  • Pharmacology, Toxicology and Pharmaceutics(all)

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