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Overexpression of microRNA-155 increases IL-21 mediated STAT3 signaling and IL-21 production in systemic lupus erythematosus.

Arthritis research & therapy (2015-06-10)
Tue Kruse Rasmussen, Thomas Andersen, Rasmus Otkjær Bak, Gloria Yiu, Christian Møller Sørensen, Kristian Stengaard-Pedersen, Jacob Giehm Mikkelsen, Paul Joseph Utz, Christian Kanstrup Holm, Bent Deleuran
ABSTRACT

Interleukin (IL)-21 is a key cytokine in autoimmune diseases such as systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) by its regulation of autoantibody production and inflammatory responses. The objective of this study is to investigate the signaling capacity of IL-21 in T and B cells and assess its possible regulation by microRNA (miR)-155 and its target gene suppressor of cytokine signaling 1 (SOCS1) in SLE. The signaling capacity of IL-21 was quantified by stimulating peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) with IL-21 and measuring phosphorylation of STAT3 (pSTAT3) in CD4+ T cells, B cells, and natural killer cells. Induction of miR-155 by IL-21 was investigated by stimulating purified CD4+ T cells with IL-21 and measuring miR-155 expression levels. The functional role of miR-155 was assessed by overexpressing miR-155 in PBMCs from SLE patients and healthy controls (HCs) and measuring its effects on STAT3 and IL-21 production in CD4+ and CD8+ T cells. Induction of pSTAT3 in CD4+ T cells in response to IL-21 was significantly decreased in SLE patients compared to HCs (p < 0.0001). Further, expression levels of miR-155 were significantly decreased and SOCS1 correspondingly increased in CD4+ T cells from SLE patients. Finally, overexpression of miR-155 in CD4+ T cells increased STAT3 phosphorylation in response to IL-21 treatment (p < 0.01) and differentially increased IL-21 production in SLE patients compared to HCs (p < 0.01). We demonstrate that SLE patients have reduced IL-21 signaling capacity, decreased miR-155 levels, and increased SOCS1 levels compared to HCs. The reduced IL-21 signaling in SLE could be rescued by overexpression of miR-155, suggesting an important role for miR-155 in the reduced IL-21 signaling observed in SLE.

MATERIALS
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