Single-Cell Analysis of Refractory Celiac Disease Demonstrates Inter- and Intra-Patient Aberrant Cell Heterogeneity

Tessa Dieckman, Mette Schreurs, Ahmed Mahfouz, Yvonne Kooy-Winkelaar, Andra Neefjes-Borst, Gerd Bouma, Frits Koning

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3 Citations (Scopus)


Background & Aims: Refractory celiac disease type II (RCDII) is a rare indolent lymphoma in the small intestine characterized by a clonally expanded intraepithelial intracellular CD3+surfaceCD3-CD7+CD56- aberrant cell population. However, RCDII pathogenesis is ill-defined. Here, we aimed at single-cell characterization of the innate and adaptive immune system in RCDII. Methods: Paired small intestinal and blood samples from 12 RCDII patients and 6 healthy controls were assessed by single-cell mass cytometry with a 39–cell surface marker antibody panel, designed to capture heterogeneity of the innate and adaptive immune system. A second single-cell mass cytometry panel that included transcription factors and immune checkpoints was used for analysis of paired samples from 5 RCDII patients. Single-cell RNA sequencing analysis was performed on duodenal samples from 2 RCDII patients. Finally, we developed a 40-marker imaging mass cytometry antibody panel to evaluate cell–cell interactions in duodenal biopsy specimens of RCDII patients. Results: We provide evidence for intertumoral and intratumoral cell heterogeneity within the duodenal and peripheral aberrant cell population present in RCDII. Phenotypic discrepancy was observed between peripheral and duodenal aberrant cells. In addition, we observed that part of the aberrant cell population proliferated and observed co-localization of aberrant cells with CD163+ antigen-presenting cells (APCs) in situ. In addition, we observed phenotypic discrepancy between peripheral and duodenal aberrant cells. Conclusions: Novel high-dimensional single-cell technologies show substantial intertumoral and intratumoral heterogeneity in the aberrant cell population in RCDII. This may underlie variability in refractory disease status between patients and responsiveness to therapy, pointing to the need for personalized therapy in RCDII based on patient-specific immune profiles.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)173-192
Number of pages20
JournalCellular and Molecular Gastroenterology and Hepatology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2022


  • Enteropathy-Associated T-Cell Lymphoma
  • Gluten Enteropathy
  • Imaging Mass Cytometry
  • Mass Cytometry
  • Tumor Heterogeneity

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