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Cryopreserved peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) are frequently collected and provide disease- and treatment-relevant data in clinical studies. Here, we developed combined protein (40 antibodies) and transcript single cell (sc)RNA sequencing in PBMCs. Among 31 participants in the WIHS Study, we sequenced 41,611 cells. Using Boolean gating followed by Seurat UMAPs and Louvain clustering, we identified 58 subsets among CD4 T, CD8 T, B, NK cells and monocytes. This resolution was superior to flow cytometry, mass cytometry or scRNA-sequencing without antibodies. Since the transcriptome was not needed for cell identification, combined protein and transcript scRNA-Seq allowed for the assessment of disease-related changes in transcriptomes and cell type proportion. As a proof-of-concept, we showed such differences between healthy and matched individuals living with HIV with and without cardiovascular disease. In conclusion, combined protein and transcript scRNA sequencing is a suitable and powerful method for clinical investigations using PBMCs.

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