MicroRNAs in islet immunobiology and transplantation

Immunol Res. 2013 Dec;57(1-3):185-96. doi: 10.1007/s12026-013-8436-5.


The ultimate goal of diabetes therapy is the restoration of physiologic metabolic control. For type 1 diabetes, research efforts are focused on the prevention or early intervention to halt the autoimmune process and preserve β cell function. Replacement of pancreatic β cells via islet transplantation reestablishes physiologic β cell function in patients with diabetes. Emerging research shows that microRNAs (miRNAs), noncoding small RNA molecules produced by a newly discovered class of genes, negatively regulate gene expression. MiRNAs recognize and bind to partially complementary sequences of target messenger RNA (mRNA), regulating mRNA translation and affecting gene expression. Correlation between miRNA signatures and genome-wide RNA expression allows identification of multiple miRNA-mRNA pairs in biological processes. Because miRNAs target functionally related genes, they represent an exciting and indispensable approach for biomarkers and drug discovery. We are studying the role of miRNA in the context of islet immunobiology. Our research aims at understanding the mechanisms underlying pancreatic β cell loss and developing clinically relevant approaches for preservation and restoration of β cell function to treat insulin-dependent diabetes. Herein, we discuss some of our recent efforts related to the study of miRNA in islet inflammation and islet engraftment. Our working hypothesis is that modulation of the expression of specific microRNAs in the transplant microenvironment will be of assistance in enhancing islet engraftment and promoting long-term function.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 1 / therapy
  • Graft Survival / genetics
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans / immunology*
  • Islets of Langerhans / metabolism*
  • Islets of Langerhans / pathology
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic / genetics


  • MicroRNAs