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Mol Immunol. 2012 Sep;52(2):61-70. doi: 10.1016/j.molimm.2012.04.007. Epub 2012 May 11.

Role of microRNA-15a in autoantibody production in interferon-augmented murine model of lupus.

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  • 1Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, New Jersey Medical School, MSB C512, 185 S. Orange Avenue, Newark, NJ 07103, United States.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are involved in the regulation of immunity via targeting of mRNA encoding immune response elements. In this report, alterations in the expression of microRNAs as autoantibody levels increase was investigated. The (NZB×NZW)F1 or B/W mouse model of systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) naturally has increased autoantibodies with aging. IFNα (type I IFN) accelerates B/W disease, however, the effects of a related IFN, IFNλ, which is a type III IFN, is largely unknown. The purpose of the study was to investigate the relationship between IFN-accelerated disease, microRNAs, immunoregulatory B cell subsets and autoantibody production in the autoimmune-prone environment in vivo. B/W mice received osmotic pumps to chronically deliver IFNα and IFNλ for up to 16 weeks. Urine protein level was monitored weekly by urine strips and proteinuria was used as the disease marker. Splenic cells were taken for flow analysis of B cell subsets and levels of microRNAs determined. Plasma were analyzed for autoantibodies and microRNA levels. As a result of treatment, IFNα accelerated proteinuria in a dose dependent manner, while IFNλ single treatment did not show a significant effect, but greatly enhanced low dose IFNα effects in the combination treatment. Both the splenic cellular and plasma miR-15a were elevated in diseased compared to pre-diseased mice as well as autoantibody levels. Autoantibodies and miR-15a levels were significantly correlated. The immunosuppressive B subpopulation, B-10, was reduced following IFNα treatment. In addition in diseased mice, B-10 versus B-2 ratios were reduced in IFN-treated B/W compared to the control PBS treated group. In all B/W the miR-15a was highly expressed in the B-10 subset and this increased with disease development, suggesting that miR-15a has a specific negative effect on the B-10 subpopulation. In conclusion, our data support the involvement of elevated miR-15a in autoimmune disease development in B/W mice and suggest that decreasing this microRNA might be beneficial in B/W mice.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ltd. All rights reserved.

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