Astrocytes are important mediators of inflammatory processes in the brain and seem to play an important role in several neurological disorders, including epilepsy. Recent studies show that astrocytes produce several microRNAs, which may function as crucial regulators of inflammatory pathways and could be used as therapeutic target. We aim to study which miRNAs are produced by astrocytes during IL-1β mediated inflammatory conditions in vitro, as well as their functional role and to validate these findings in human epileptogenic brain tissue. Sequencing was used to assess miRNA and mRNA expression in IL-1β-stimulated human fetal astrocyte cultures. miRNAs were overexpressed in cell cultures using miRNA mimics. Expression of miRNAs in resected brain tissue from patients with tuberous sclerosis complex or temporal lobe epilepsy with hippocampal sclerosis was examined using in situ hybridization. Two differentially expressed miRNAs were found: miR146a and miR147b, which were associated with increased expression of genes related to the immune/inflammatory response. As previously reported for miR146a, overexpression of miR147b reduced the expression of the pro-inflammatory mediators IL-6 and COX-2 after IL-1β stimulation in both astrocyte and tuberous sclerosis complex cell cultures. miR146a and miR147b overexpression decreased proliferation of astrocytes and promoted neuronal differentiation of human neural stem cells. Similarly to previous evidence for miR146a, miR147b was increased expressed in astrocytes in epileptogenic brain. Due to their anti-inflammatory effects, ability to restore aberrant astrocytic proliferation and promote neuronal differentiation, miR146a and miR147b deserve further investigation as potential therapeutic targets in neurological disorders associated with inflammation, such as epilepsy.
Keywords: Astrocytes; inflammation; interleukin 1 beta; microRNA; temporal lobe epilepsy; tuberous sclerosis complex.
© 2018 Wiley Periodicals, Inc.