Exosome-delivered microRNAs modulate the inflammatory response to endotoxin

Nat Commun. 2015 Jun 18;6:7321. doi: 10.1038/ncomms8321.


MicroRNAs regulate gene expression posttranscriptionally and function within the cells in which they are transcribed. However, recent evidence suggests that microRNAs can be transferred between cells and mediate target gene repression. We find that endogenous miR-155 and miR-146a, two critical microRNAs that regulate inflammation, are released from dendritic cells within exosomes and are subsequently taken up by recipient dendritic cells. Following uptake, exogenous microRNAs mediate target gene repression and can reprogramme the cellular response to endotoxin, where exosome-delivered miR-155 enhances while miR-146a reduces inflammatory gene expression. We also find that miR-155 and miR-146a are present in exosomes and pass between immune cells in vivo, as well as demonstrate that exosomal miR-146a inhibits while miR-155 promotes endotoxin-induced inflammation in mice. Together, our findings provide strong evidence that endogenous microRNAs undergo a functional transfer between immune cells and constitute a mechanism of regulating the inflammatory response.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Argonaute Proteins / metabolism
  • Bone Marrow Cells / physiology
  • Dendritic Cells / physiology*
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Inflammation / metabolism*
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*


  • Ago2 protein, mouse
  • Argonaute Proteins
  • Lipopolysaccharides
  • MicroRNAs
  • Mirn146 microRNA, mouse
  • Mirn155 microRNA, mouse