Evaluation of Orbital Lymphoproliferative and Inflammatory Disorders by Gene Expression Analysis

Non-specific orbital inflammation (NSOI) and IgG4-related orbital disease (IgG4-ROD) are often challenging to differentiate. Furthermore, it is still uncertain how chronic inflammation, such as IgG4-ROD, can lead to mucosa-associated lymphoid tissue (MALT) lymphoma. Therefore, we aimed to evaluate the diagnostic value of gene expression analysis to differentiate orbital autoimmune diseases and elucidate genetic overlaps. First, we established a database of NSOI, relapsing NSOI, IgG4-ROD and MALT lymphoma patients of our orbital center (2000–2019). In a consensus process, three typical patients of the above mentioned three groups (mean age 56.4 ± 17 years) at similar locations were selected. Afterwards, RNA was isolated using the RNeasy FFPE kit (Qiagen) from archived paraffin-embedded tissues. The RNA of these 12 patients were then subjected to gene expression analysis (NanoString nCounter ® ), including a total of 1364 target genes. The most significantly upregulated and downregulated genes were used for a machine learning algorithm to distinguish entities. This was possible with a high probability ( p < 0.0001). Interestingly, gene expression patterns showed a characteristic overlap of lymphoma with IgG4-ROD and NSOI. In contrast, IgG4-ROD shared only altered expression of one gene regarding NSOI. To validate our potential biomarker genes, we isolated the RNA of a further 48 patients (24 NSOI, 11 IgG4-ROD, 13 lymphoma patients). Then, gene expression pattern analysis of the 35 identified target genes was performed using a custom-designed CodeSet to assess the prediction accuracy of the multi-parameter scoring algorithms. They showed high accuracy and good performance (AUC ROC: IgG4-ROD 0.81, MALT 0.82, NSOI 0.67). To conclude, genetic expression analysis has the potential for faster and more secure differentiation between NSOI and IgG4-ROD. MALT-lymphoma and IgG4-ROD showed more genetic similarities, which points towards progression to lymphoma.


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