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Acute cardiac allograft rejection is a serious complication of heart transplantation. Investigating molecular processes in whole blood via microarrays is a promising avenue of research in transplantation, particularly due to the non-invasive nature of blood sampling. However, whole blood is a complex tissue and the consequent heterogeneity in composition amongst samples is ignored in traditional microarray analysis. This complicates the biological interpretation of microarray data. Here we have applied a statistical deconvolution approach, cell-specific significance analysis of microarrays (csSAM), to whole blood samples from subjects either undergoing acute heart allograft rejection (AR) or not (NR). We identified eight differentially expressed probe-sets significantly correlated to monocytes (mapping to 6 genes, all down-regulated in ARs versus NRs) at a false discovery rate (FDR) ≤ 15%. None of the genes identified are present in a biomarker panel of acute heart rejection previously published by our group and discovered in the same data.
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