Type 1 diabetes (T1D) is an autoimmune disease leading to β-cell destruction. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that control gene expression and organ formation. They participate in the pathogenesis of several autoimmune diseases, but the nature of miRNAs contributing to β-cell death in T1D and their target genes remain to be clarified. We performed an miRNA expression profile on human islet preparations exposed to the cytokines IL-1β plus IFN-γ. Confirmation of miRNA and target gene modification in human β-cells was performed by real-time quantitative PCR. Single-stranded miRNAs inhibitors were used to block selected endogenous miRNAs. Cell death was measured by Hoechst/propidium iodide staining and activation of caspase-3. Fifty-seven miRNAs were detected as modulated by cytokines. Three of them, namely miR-23a-3p, miR-23b-3p, and miR-149-5p, were downregulated by cytokines and selected for further studies. These miRNAs were found to regulate the expression of the proapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins DP5 and PUMA and consequent human β-cell apoptosis. These results identify a novel cross talk between a key family of miRNAs and proapoptotic Bcl-2 proteins in human pancreatic β-cells, broadening our understanding of cytokine-induced β-cell apoptosis in early T1D.
© 2017 by the American Diabetes Association.