Objective: Although several miRNAs have been shown to regulate autoimmune pathogenesis by affecting lymphocyte function, the roles of miRNAs in the pathogenesis of SSc remain unclear. Therefore the purpose of this study was to identify miRNAs that play a role in the pathogenesis of SSc by quantitative PCR screening of serum miRNAs.
Methods: Ninety-five miRNAs that were predicted to target SSc-related genes [IL-4, TGF-β, CTGF, PDGF-B, PDGF receptor (PDGFR) α/β and COL1A2) by in silico analyses were selected. The expression of these miRNAs in sera of SSc patients and healthy controls was measured by quantitative PCR. Involvement of miR-30b, which was most strongly down-regulated in SSc patients, in the regulation of PDGFR-β expression was examined by transfection experiments and 3'-untranslated region (3'-UTR) target luciferase assays. The expression of miR-30b in skin was evaluated in a bleomycin-induced dermal fibrosis model in mice and in SSc patients.
Results: Nineteen of 95 miRNAs were significantly decreased in the sera of SSc patients. Among them, miR-30b was most strongly down-regulated in SSc patients (P = 0.00006) and the levels of miR-30b were inversely correlated with modified Rodnan skin scores. Transfection of a miR-30b mimic repressed PDGFR-β expression in dermal fibroblasts and the activity of a luciferase reporter containing 3'-UTR of PDGFR-β. Moreover, the expression of miR-30b was down-regulated in bleomycin-treated sclerotic skin and in affected skin in SSc patients.
Conclusion: Down-regulation of miR-30b might be involved in the pathogenesis of SSc.
Keywords: PDGF receptor β; SSc; miR-30b; miRNA.