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Acute effects on the human peripheral blood transcriptome of decompression sickness secondary to scuba diving: Supplementary datasets

Cite this dataset

Pace, Nikolai (2021). Acute effects on the human peripheral blood transcriptome of decompression sickness secondary to scuba diving: Supplementary datasets [Dataset]. Dryad.


Decompression sickness (DCS) develops due to inert gas bubble formation in the circulation, leading to a wide range of potentially serious clinical manifestations. Its pathophysiology remains incompletely understood. In this study, we aim to explore changes in the human leukocyte transcriptome in divers with cutaneous DCS compared to closely matched unaffected controls after uneventful diving. Cases (n = 7) were divers developing the typical cutis marmorata rash after diving with a confirmed clinical diagnosis of DCS. Controls (n = 6) were healthy divers who surfaced from a ≥25 msw dive without decompression violation or evidence of DCS. Blood was sampled at two separate time points – within 8 hours of dive completion and 40-44 hours later. Transcriptome analysis by RNA-Sequencing followed by bioinformatic analysis was carried out to identify differentially expressed genes and relate their function to biological pathways. In DCS cases, we identified enrichment of transcripts involved in acute inflammation, activation of innate immunity and free radical scavenging pathways, with specific upregulation of transcripts related to neutrophil function and degranulation. DCS-induced transcriptomic events were reversed at the second time point following exposure to hyperbaric oxygen. The observed changes are consistent with findings from animal models of DCS and highlight a continuum between the responses elicited by uneventful diving and diving complicated by DCS. This study sheds light on the inflammatory pathophysiology of DCS and the associated immune response. Such data may potentially be valuable in the search for novel treatments targeting this disease.



In this study, we aim to explore the evolution of leukocyte gene expression in human subjects with DCS compared to closely matched divers after uneventful diving using a hypothesis-free RNA sequencing approach .Recruitment of DCS cases (n = 7) and controls (n = 6) was carried out using specific criteria. For both DCS cases and controls, whole blood was sampled at two time points, T1 - within 8 hours of surfacing from diving and T2 - at 40-44 hours after surfacing. Prior to sampling at T2, subjects were fasted for 10 hours. Specific exclusion criteria included a) age < 18 years b) self-reported consumption of alcohol and/or strenuous physical activity before T2 c) symptoms suggestive of delayed DCS presentation in controls at T2 d) acute life-threatening clinical complications or death within 72 hours of surfacing. All cases received emergency HBO as per United States Navy Treatment Table Six between T1 and T2.For RNA isolation, 2.5mL of whole blood was collected in a PAXgene® Blood RNA Tube (PreAnalytiX, Qiagen/BD) from DCS cases and controls at both T1 and T2. The quality of RNA was evaluated by RNA Integrity Number (RIN) determination using the RNA6000 Nano protocol on an Agilent 2100 Bioanalyzer system (Agilent, USA). The RIN values for samples undergoing transcriptome analysis ranged from 7.8 to 9.3. Depletion of alpha and beta globin mRNA was carried out using the GLOBINclear™ kit (ThermoFisher Scientific). To minimize batch effects, all samples were processed simultaneously by the same investigator. RNA samples were submitted for library generation and sequencing by the Beijing Genomics Institute (BGI-Shenzhen). Briefly, poly(A) mRNA was enriched using poly(T) oligo-attached magnetic beads, followed by fragmentation. First strand cDNA synthesis was carried out using random hexamer N6 primers and reverse transcriptase. Following adaptor ligation to cDNA fragments, PCR amplification and purification, single stranded DNA circles were generated in a final library. DNA nanoballs (DNBs) were subsequently generated by rolling circle replication, which underwent paired end sequencing (100bp) on the BGI DNBseq platform

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University of Malta