Integrative multi-omics analysis reveals novel idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis endotypes associated with disease progression

Peifeng Ruan, Jamie L. Todd, Hongyu Zhao, Yi Liu, Richard Vinisko, Julia F. Soellner, Ramona Schmid, Robert J. Kaner, Tracy R. Luckhardt, Megan L. Neely, Imre Noth, Mary Porteous, Rishi Raj, Zeenat Safdar, Mary E. Strek, Christian Hesslinger, Scott M. Palmer, Thomas B. Leonard, Margaret L. Salisbury

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

6 Scopus citations


BACKGROUND: Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is characterized by the accumulation of extracellular matrix in the pulmonary interstitium and progressive functional decline. We hypothesized that integration of multi-omics data would identify clinically meaningful molecular endotypes of IPF.

METHODS: The IPF-PRO Registry is a prospective registry of patients with IPF. Proteomic and transcriptomic (including total RNA [toRNA] and microRNA [miRNA]) analyses were performed using blood collected at enrollment. Molecular data were integrated using Similarity Network Fusion, followed by unsupervised spectral clustering to identify molecular subtypes. Cox proportional hazards models tested the relationship between these subtypes and progression-free and transplant-free survival. The molecular subtypes were compared to risk groups based on a previously described 52-gene (toRNA expression) signature. Biological characteristics of the molecular subtypes were evaluated via linear regression differential expression and canonical pathways (Ingenuity Pathway Analysis [IPA]) over-representation analyses.

RESULTS: Among 232 subjects, two molecular subtypes were identified. Subtype 1 (n = 105, 45.3%) and Subtype 2 (n = 127, 54.7%) had similar distributions of age (70.1 +/- 8.1 vs. 69.3 +/- 7.6 years; p = 0.31) and sex (79.1% vs. 70.1% males, p = 0.16). Subtype 1 had more severe disease based on composite physiologic index (CPI) (55.8 vs. 51.2; p = 0.002). After adjusting for CPI and antifibrotic treatment at enrollment, subtype 1 experienced shorter progression-free survival (HR 1.79, 95% CI 1.28,2.56; p = 0.0008) and similar transplant-free survival (HR 1.30, 95% CI 0.87,1.96; p = 0.20) as subtype 2. There was little agreement in the distribution of subjects to the molecular subtypes and the risk groups based on 52-gene signature (kappa = 0.04, 95% CI= -0.08, 0.17), and the 52-gene signature risk groups were associated with differences in transplant-free but not progression-free survival. Based on heatmaps and differential expression analyses, proteins and miRNAs (but not toRNA) contributed to classification of subjects to the molecular subtypes. The IPA showed enrichment in pulmonary fibrosis-relevant pathways, including mTOR, VEGF, PDGF, and B-cell receptor signaling.

CONCLUSIONS: Integration of transcriptomic and proteomic data from blood enabled identification of clinically meaningful molecular endotypes of IPF. If validated, these endotypes could facilitate identification of individuals likely to experience disease progression and enrichment of clinical trials.


Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number141
Pages (from-to)141
JournalRespiratory Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - May 31 2023


  • Biomarkers
  • Cluster analysis
  • Computational biology
  • Lung fibrosis
  • Proteomics
  • RNA
  • Humans
  • Lung
  • Male
  • Multiomics
  • Disease Progression
  • MicroRNAs
  • Female
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis/diagnosis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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