Ibrutinib downregulates a subset of miRNA leading to upregulation of tumor suppressors and inhibition of cell proliferation in chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

PMID 27431016


The lymph node (LN) is the site of chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) cell activation and proliferation. Aberrant microRNA (miRNA) expression has been shown to have a role in CLL pathogenesis; however, a comparison of miRNA expression between CLL cells in the LN and the peripheral blood (PB) has previously not been reported. On the basis of the analysis of 17 paired LN and PB samples from CLL patients, we identify a panel of miRNAs that are increased in LN CLL cells correlating with an activation phenotype. When evaluated in CLL cells from 38 patients pre and post treatment with ibrutinib, a subset of these miRNAs (miR-22, miR-34a, miR-146b and miR-181b) was significantly decreased in response to ibrutinib. A concomitant increase in putative miRNA target transcripts (ARID1B, ARID2, ATM, CYLD, FOXP1, HDAC1, IBTK, PTEN and SMAD4) was also observed. Functional studies confirmed targets of ibrutinib-responsive miRNAs to include messenger RNA transcripts of multiple tumor suppressors. Knockdown of endogenous miR-34a and miR146b resulted in increased transcription of tumor suppressors and inhibition of cell proliferation. These findings demonstrate that ibrutinib downregulates the expression of a subset of miRNAs related to B-cell activation leading to increased expression of miRNA targets including tumor suppressors and a reduction in cell proliferation.