Biochemistry, Department of



npj Systems Biology and Applications (2021) 7:4 ;


Open Access This article is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License,


CD4+ T cells provide adaptive immunity against pathogens and abnormal cells, and they are also associated with various immunerelated diseases. CD4+ T cells’ metabolism is dysregulated in these pathologies and represents an opportunity for drug discovery and development. Genome-scale metabolic modeling offers an opportunity to accelerate drug discovery by providing high-quality information about possible target space in the context of a modeled disease. Here, we develop genome-scale models of naïve, Th1, Th2, and Th17 CD4+ T-cell subtypes to map metabolic perturbations in rheumatoid arthritis, multiple sclerosis, and primary biliary cholangitis. We subjected these models to in silico simulations for drug response analysis of existing FDA-approved drugs and compounds. Integration of disease-specific differentially expressed genes with altered reactions in response to metabolic perturbations identified 68 drug targets for the three autoimmune diseases. In vitro experimental validation, together with literature-based evidence, showed that modulation of fifty percent of identified drug targets suppressed CD4+ T cells, further increasing their potential impact as therapeutic interventions. Our approach can be generalized in the context of other diseases, and the metabolic models can be further used to dissect CD4+ T-cell metabolism