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J Biol Chem. 2009 Dec 11;284(50):34590-9. doi: 10.1074/jbc.M109.056317. Epub 2009 Oct 19.

miR-146a is critical for endotoxin-induced tolerance: IMPLICATION IN INNATE IMMUNITY.

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Department of Oral Biology, University of Florida, Gainesville, Florida 32610, USA.


The human toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) pathway is activated in response to lipopolysaccharide (LPS), and subsequent signal transductions lead to the production of cytokines such as tumor necrosis factor-alpha (TNF-alpha) by innate immune cells. Defects in innate immune response may contribute to the overproduction of TNF-alpha leading to systemic inflammation and diseases. Thus, the innate immune response needs to be tightly regulated by elaborate mechanisms to control its onset and termination. LPS tolerance is a state of hyporesponsiveness to subsequent LPS challenge and is achieved by monocytic cells after prolonged exposure to LPS. In this report, kinetics of endotoxin-responsive microRNAs expression analysis revealed a unique pattern of gradual increase for miR-146a starting 4 h after LPS stimulation in THP-1 cells and continued up to 35-fold over 24 h. Conversely, TNF-alpha increased up to 4 h and then decreased gradually implicating a negative correlation with miR-146a progression. The characteristic up-regulation of miR-146a toward subsequent LPS challenge in THP-1 cells was studied. Strikingly, microRNA expression analysis during the tolerized state of THP-1 cells showed only miR-146a overexpression suggesting its important role in LPS tolerance. In addition, LPS tolerance was dependent on a LPS-priming dose and associated miR-146a up-regulation. LPS-tolerized cells were observed to regain responsiveness in TNF-alpha production 22 h after LPS removal correlating with a decrease in miR-146a level. Transfection of miR-146a into THP-1 cells mimicked LPS priming, whereas transfection of miR-146a inhibitor largely abolished LPS tolerance. Thus our studies demonstrated that miR-146a is critical for the in vitro monocytic cell-based endotoxin tolerance.

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