Maternal asthma and microRNA regulation of soluble HLA-G in the airway

J Allergy Clin Immunol. 2013 Jun;131(6):1496-503. doi: 10.1016/j.jaci.2013.01.037. Epub 2013 Mar 25.


Background: We previously reported an interaction between maternal asthma and the child's HLA-G genotype on the child's subsequent risk for asthma. The implicated single nucleotide polymorphism at +3142 disrupted a target site for the microRNA (miR)-152 family. We hypothesized that the interaction effect might be mediated by these miRs.

Objective: The objective of this study was to test this hypothesis in adults with asthma who are a subset of the same subjects who participated in our earlier family-based studies.

Methods: We measured soluble HLA-G (sHLA-G) concentrations in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (n = 36) and plasma (n = 57) from adult asthmatic subjects with and without a mother with asthma, and HLA-G and miR-152 family (miR-148a, miR-148b, and miR-152) transcript levels in airway epithelial cells from the same subjects.

Results: miR-148b levels were significantly increased in airway epithelial cells from asthmatic subjects with an asthmatic mother compared with those seen in asthmatic subjects without an asthmatic mother, and +3142 genotypes were associated with sHLA-G concentrations in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid among asthmatic subjects with an asthmatic mother but not among those with a nonasthmatic mother. Neither effect was observed in the plasma (sHLA-G) or white blood cells (miRNA).

Conclusion: These combined results are consistent with +3142 allele-specific targeting of HLA-G by the miR-152 family and support our hypothesis that miRNA regulation of sHLA-G in the airway is influenced by both the asthma status of the subject's mother and the subject's genotype. Moreover, we demonstrate that the effects of maternal asthma on the gene regulatory landscape in the airways of the mother's children persist into adulthood.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • African Americans
  • Asthma / genetics*
  • Asthma / immunology*
  • Asthma / metabolism
  • Female
  • Genotype
  • HLA-G Antigens / blood
  • HLA-G Antigens / genetics
  • HLA-G Antigens / immunology*
  • Humans
  • Lung / immunology
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Male
  • Maternal Exposure
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Respiratory Mucosa / immunology
  • Respiratory Mucosa / metabolism
  • Whites
  • Young Adult


  • HLA-G Antigens
  • MIRN152 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs