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PLoS One. 2013;8(3):e58639. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0058639. Epub 2013 Mar 13.

MiR-181a regulates inflammation responses in monocytes and macrophages.

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Shenzhen Key Lab of Health Science and Technology, Division of Life Sciences & Health, Graduate School at Shenzhen, Tsinghua University, Shenzhen, China.


miR-181a has been presumed to target the 3'-untranslated regions (3'-UTR) of IL1a based on software predictions. miR-181a and IL1a have opposite expression levels in monocytes and macrophages in the inflammatory state. This led us to suspect that mir-181a has an important function in regulating inflammatory response by targeting IL1a. Fluorescence reporter assays showed that miR-181a effectively binds to the 3'-UTR of IL1a. The anti-inflammatory functions of miR-181a were investigated in lipopolysaccharides (LPS)-induced Raw264.7 and phorbol 12-myristate 13-acetate (PMA)/LPS-induced THP-1 cells. We found that miR-181a mimics significantly lowered IL1a expression levels in these cells and, interestingly, miR-181a inhibitors reversed this decrease. In addition, miR-181a mimics significantly inhibited increase in the levels of inflammatory factors (IL1b, IL6, and TNFa) in these cells. Furthermore, miR-181a mimics and inhibitors decreased and increased, respectively, production of reactive oxygen species in PMA/LPS-induced THP-1 cells. These results indicate that miR-181a regulates inflammatory responses by directly targeting the 3'-UTR of IL1a and down-regulating IL1a levels. Interestingly, we found that miR-181a inhibited production of inflammatory factors even in IL1a-induced THP-1 cells, suggesting that the anti-inflammatory effects of miR-181a possibly involves other targets in addition to IL1a. Thus, we provide the first evidence for anti-inflammatory effects of miR-181a mediated at least in part by down-regulating IL1a.

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