Gene expression signatures can aid diagnosis of sexually transmitted infection-induced endometritis in women

Xiaojing Zheng, Catherine M. O'Connell, Wujuan Zhong, Taylor B. Poston, Harold C. Wiesenfeld, Sharon L. Hillier, Maria Trent, Charlotte Gaydos, George Tseng, Brandie D. Taylor, Toni Darville

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Sexually transmitted infection (STI) of the upper reproductive tract can result in inflammation and infertility. A biomarker of STI-induced upper tract inflammation would be significant as many women are asymptomatic and delayed treatment increases risk of sequelae. Blood mRNA from 111 women from three cohorts was profiled using microarray. Unsupervised analysis revealed a transcriptional profile that distinguished 9 cases of STI-induced endometritis from 18 with cervical STI or uninfected controls. Using a hybrid feature selection algorithm we identified 21 genes that yielded maximal classification accuracy within our training dataset. Predictive accuracy was evaluated using an independent testing dataset of 5 cases and 10 controls. Sensitivity was evaluated in a separate test set of 12 women with asymptomatic STI-induced endometritis in whom cervical burden was determined by PCR; and specificity in an additional test set of 15 uninfected women with pelvic pain due to unknown cause. Disease module preservation was assessed in 42 women with a clinical diagnosis of pelvic inflammatory disease (PID). We also tested the ability of the biomarker to discriminate STI-induced endometritis from other diseases. The biomarker was 86.7% (13/15) accurate in correctly distinguishing cases from controls in the testing dataset. Sensitivity was 83.3% (5/6) in women with high cervical Chlamydia trachomatis burden and asymptomatic endometritis, but 0% (0/6) in women with low burden. Specificity in patients with non-STI-induced pelvic pain was 86.7% (13/15). Disease modules were preserved in all 8 biomarker predicted cases. The 21-gene biomarker was highly discriminatory for systemic infections, lupus, and appendicitis, but wrongly predicted tuberculosis as STI-induced endometritis in 52.4%. A 21-gene biomarker can identify asymptomatic women with STI-induced endometritis that places them at risk for chronic disease development and discriminate STI-induced endometritis from non-STI pelvic pain and other diseases.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number307
JournalFrontiers in Cellular and Infection Microbiology
Issue numberSEP
StatePublished - Sep 20 2018
Externally publishedYes


  • Biomarker
  • Chlamydia
  • Gonorrhea
  • MRNA
  • Pelvic inflammatory disease

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Microbiology
  • Immunology
  • Microbiology (medical)
  • Infectious Diseases


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