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BACKGROUND: Pro-inflammatory fibroblasts are critical for pathogenesis in rheumatoid arthritis, inflammatory bowel disease, interstitial lung disease, and Sjögren's syndrome and represent a novel therapeutic target for chronic inflammatory disease. However, the heterogeneity of fibroblast phenotypes, exacerbated by the lack of a common cross-tissue taxonomy, has limited our understanding of which pathways are shared by multiple diseases. METHODS: We profiled fibroblasts derived from inflamed and non-inflamed synovium, intestine, lungs, and salivary glands from affected individuals with single-cell RNA sequencing. We integrated all fibroblasts into a multi-tissue atlas to characterize shared and tissue-specific phenotypes. FINDINGS: Two shared clusters, CXCL10+CCL19+ immune-interacting and SPARC+COL3A1+ vascular-interacting fibroblasts, were expanded in all inflamed tissues and mapped to dermal analogs in a public atopic dermatitis atlas. We confirmed these human pro-inflammatory fibroblasts in animal models of lung, joint, and intestinal inflammation. CONCLUSIONS: This work represents a thorough investigation into fibroblasts across organ systems, individual donors, and disease states that reveals shared pathogenic activation states across four chronic inflammatory diseases. FUNDING: Grant from F. Hoffmann-La Roche (Roche) AG.

Original publication




Journal article


Med (N Y)

Publication Date





481 - 518.e14


Foundational research, Sjögren's syndrome, atlas, fibroblasts, inflammation, integration, interstitial lung disease, rheumatoid arthritis, scRNA-seq, stromal, ulcerative colitis, Animals, Arthritis, Rheumatoid, Fibroblasts, Phenotype, Stromal Cells, Synovial Membrane