Background & Aims: Diverticulitis is the chronic inflammation of diverticula. Whether the pathophysiology of earlier-onset patients differs from later-onset patients is unknown. We profiled the colonic transcriptomes of these two patient populations to gain insight into the molecular underpinnings of diverticulitis.

Methods: We conducted deep RNA sequencing (RNA-seq) on colonic segments surgically resected from earlier-onset (<42 years old, n=13) and later-onset (>65 years old, n=13) diverticulitis patients. We used bioinformatic approaches to cluster the patients based on the relationship of differentially expressed genes and to inform on the molecular pathways that segregated the clusters.

Results: Principal component analysis identified three patient clusters; diverticulitis later-onset (DVT-LO), diverticulitis mixed-onset (DVT-MO), and diverticulitis earlier-onset (DVT-EO). The patients comprising DVT-EO, which was the majority of earlier-onset patients, displayed increased expression of anti-viral response genes. This finding was confirmed using an independent weighted co-expression network analysis (WGCNA) of differentially expressed genes.

Conclusions: We found that the majority of patients with earlier-onset disease contained elevated expression of host genes involved in the anti-viral response. Thus, susceptibility to a viral pathogen may offer one explanation why some individuals develop diverticulitis at an earlier age.


diverticulitis, earlier-onset, RNA-seq, viral response