Computer-Aided Imaging Analysis of Probe-Based Confocal Laser Endomicroscopy with Molecular Labeling and Gene Expression Identifies Markers of Response to Biological Therapy in IBD Patients: The Endo-Omics Study

Marietta Iacucci*, Louisa Jeffery, Animesh Acharjee, Enrico Grisan, Andrea Buda, Olga M. Nardone, Samuel C.L. Smith, Nunzia Labarile, Davide Zardo, Bella Ungar, Stuart Hunter, Ren Mao, Rosanna Cannatelli, Uday N. Shivaji, Tommaso Lorenzo Parigi, Gary M. Reynolds, Georgios V. Gkoutos, Subrata Ghosh

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: We aimed to predict response to biologics in inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) using computerized image analysis of probe confocal laser endomicroscopy (pCLE) in vivo and assess the binding of fluorescent-labeled biologics ex vivo. Additionally, we investigated genes predictive of anti-Tumor necrosis factor (TNF) response. Methods: Twenty-nine patients (15 with Crohn's disease [CD], 14 with ulcerative colitis [UC]) underwent colonoscopy with pCLE before and 12 to 14 weeks after starting anti-TNF or anti-integrin α4β7 therapy. Biopsies were taken for fluorescein isothiocyanate-labeled infliximab and vedolizumab staining and gene expression analysis. Computer-Aided quantitative image analysis of pCLE was performed. Differentially expressed genes predictive of response were determined and validated in a public cohort. Results: In vivo, vessel tortuosity, crypt morphology, and fluorescein leakage predicted response in UC (area under the receiver-operating characteristic curve [AUROC], 0.93; accuracy 85%, positive predictive value [PPV] 89%; negative predictive value [NPV] 75%) and CD (AUROC, 0.79; accuracy 80%; PPV 75%; NPV 83%) patients. Ex vivo, increased binding of labeled biologic at baseline predicted response in UC (UC) (AUROC, 83%; accuracy 77%; PPV 89%; NPV 50%) but not in Crohn's disease (AUROC 58%). A total of 325 differentially expressed genes distinguished responders from nonresponders, 86 of which fell within the most enriched pathways. A panel including ACTN1, CXCL6, LAMA4, EMILIN1, CRIP2, CXCL13, and MAPKAPK2 showed good prediction of anti-TNF response (AUROC >0.7). Conclusions: Higher mucosal binding of the drug target is associated with response to therapy in UC. In vivo, mucosal and microvascular changes detected by pCLE are associated with response to biologics in inflammatory bowel disease. Anti-TNF-responsive UC patients have a less inflamed and fibrotic state pretreatment. Chemotactic pathways involving CXCL6 or CXCL13 may be novel targets for therapy in nonresponders.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1409-1420
Number of pages12
JournalInflammatory Bowel Diseases
Volume29
Issue number9
DOIs
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2023
Externally publishedYes

Keywords

  • Crohn's disease
  • RNA transcriptomics
  • artificial intelligence
  • biological agents
  • endoscopic molecular labeling
  • probe confocal laser endomicroscopy
  • ulcerative colitis

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