Research Paper Volume 13, Issue 6 pp 8306—8319

Identification of key genes in coronary artery disease: an integrative approach based on weighted gene co-expression network analysis and their correlation with immune infiltration

Yang Yang1, , Xiangshan Xu1, ,

  • 1 Fourth Affiliated Hospital of China Medical University, Huanggu, Shenyang 110032, Liaoning, China

Received: October 21, 2020       Accepted: January 29, 2021       Published: March 3, 2021
How to Cite

Copyright: © 2021 Yang and Xu. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY 3.0), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


This study aimed to identify key genes related to coronary artery disease (CAD) and its association with immune cells infiltration. GSE20680 and GSE20681 were downloaded from GEO. We identified red and pink modules in WGCNA analysis and found 104 genes in these two modules. Next, least absolute shrinkage and selection operator (LASSO) logistic regression was used to screen and verify the diagnostic markers of CAD. We identified ASCC2, LRRC18, and SLC25A37 as the key genes in CAD diagnosis. We further studied the immune cells infiltration in CAD patients with CIBERSORT, and the correlation between key genes and infiltrating immune cells was analyzed. We also found immune cells, including macrophages M0, mast cells resting and T cells CD8, were associated with ASCC2, LRRC18 and SLC25A37. Gene enrichment analysis indicated that these genes mainly enriched in apoptotic signaling pathway for biological pathway analysis, riboflavin metabolism for KEGG analysis. The diagnostic efficiency of these key genes measured by AUC in the training set, testing set and validation cohort was 0.92, 0.96 and 0.83, respectively. In conclusion, ASCC2, LRRC18 and SLC25A37 can be used as diagnostic markers of CAD, and immune cell infiltration plays an important role in the onset and development of CAD.


CAD: coronary artery disease; LASSO: least absolute shrinkage and selection operator; WGCNA: Weighted Gene Co-expression Network Analysis; GEO: Gene Expression Omnibus; GO: Gene Ontology; KEGG: Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes.