Genome-wide transcriptional profiling has emerged as a powerful tool for analyzing biological mechanisms underlying social gradients in health, but utilization in population-based studies has been hampered by logistical constraints and costs associated with venipuncture blood sampling. Dried blood spots (DBS) provide a minimally invasive, low-cost alternative to venipuncture, and in this article we evaluate how closely the substantive results from DBS transcriptional profiling correspond to those derived from parallel analyses of gold-standard venous blood samples (PAXgene whole blood and peripheral blood mononuclear cells [PBMC]). Analyses focused on differences in gene expression between African-Americans and Caucasians in a community sample of 82 healthy adults (age 18–70 years; mean 35). Across 19,679 named gene transcripts, DBS-derived values correlated r = .85 with both PAXgene and PBMC values. Results from bioinformatics analyses of gene expression derived from DBS samples were concordant with PAXgene and PBMC samples in identifying increased Type I interferon signaling and up-regulated activity of monocytes and natural killer (NK) cells in African-Americans compared to Caucasian participants. These findings demonstrate the feasibility of DBS in field-based studies of gene expression and encourage future studies of human transcriptome dynamics in larger, more representative samples than are possible with clinic- or lab-based research designs.
|Number of pages
|Biodemography and Social Biology
|Published - 3 May 2016