2019 Mar 26 - Using tools such as single cell RNAseq and spatial mapping, researchers can determine the presence and distribution of monocytes - and their possible roles - in human autoimmune disease.
Dr. Paul J. Hoover
Instructor in Medicine, Harvard Medical School
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Courtney Anderson, PhD
Research Manager, Applications, Advanced Cell Diagnostics

A major challenge in developing treatments for lupus, an autoimmune disease that affects many organs in the human body, has been in identifying disease-specific cell types and their state and function. This webcast will describe how we profiled immune cells infiltrating the lupus kidneys. Using single-cell RNAseq (scRNAseq), we found 21 immune cell types in the lupus kidney that were mostly absent in healthy kidney. We focused on three monocytes, whose gene-expression signatures implied they represented a continuum of states. First, monocytes enter from the blood; in the tissue they differentiate to a phagocytic form, before finally turning into a reparative state. Importantly, these monocytes did not map to those in prior studies, suggesting disease and tissue specificity. Kidney is a complex but highly organized tissue. We hypothesized that the monocytes were changing state in response to environmental signals. Since spatial relationships are lost after tissue dissociation required for scRNA-seq, we instead used intact clinical specimens to map the monocytes’ relationships to histological features. We found that each monocyte state occupies a discrete renal compartment, suggesting that each compartment provides a unique set of disease- and tissue-specific signals for monocyte differentiation in the lupus kidney.


Watch the On-Demand Version Here

Learning Objectives:

This webcast will feature:

  • Functional insights into lupus-specific monocyte states in tissue.
  • How we used RNAscope in situ technologies to stain state-specific monocyte cell types in tissue.
  • How we related monocyte states to histological features of complex tissue.
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