Background: Psoriasis and psoriatic arthritis (PsA) are inflammatory associated autoimmune disorders. MicroRNA (miR)-146a plays a crucial role in regulating inflammation. A single nucleotide polymorphism in the miR-146a gene (rs2910164), aberrantly alters its gene expression and linked with the pathogenesis of several disorders, including psoriasis and PsA. In South Africa, psoriasis and PsA are extremely rare in the indigenous African population and most common in both the Indian and Caucasian population. The aim of this study was to investigate whether the miR-146a rs2910164 contributes towards psoriasis and PsA development in South African Indian and Caucasian patients.
Methods: South African Indian (n = 84) and Caucasian (n = 32) PsA patients (total n = 116) and healthy control subjects (Indian: n = 62 and Caucasian: n = 38; total n = 100) were recruited in the study. DNA was extracted from whole blood taken from all subjects, and genotyped for the miR-146a rs2910164 using polymerase chain reaction-restriction fragment length polymorphism (PCR-RFLP). Data for laboratory parameters were obtained from pathology reports. The consulting rheumatologist collected all other clinical data.
Results: Unstratified data (Caucasians + Indians): A significant decrease in C-reactive protein (CRP) levels in PsA patients was observed (CRP monitored at inclusion vs. after 6 months of treatment) (18.95 ± 2.81 mg/L vs. 9.68 ± 1.32 mg/L, p = 0.0011). The miR-146a rs2910164 variant C-allele frequency in PsA patients was significantly higher vs. healthy controls (35.78% vs. 26% respectively, p = 0.0295, OR = 1.59 95% CI 1.05-2.40). Stratified data (Indians): The variant C-allele frequency in Indian PsA patients was significantly higher vs. healthy Indian controls (35.71% vs. 22.58%, p = 0.0200, OR = 1.91 95% CI 1.13-3.22). Stratified data (Caucasians): The variant C-allele frequency distribution between Caucasian PsA patients and healthy Caucasian controls was similar.
Conclusion: The rs2910164 variant C-allele may play a role in the progression of PsA in the South African Indian population. The main limitation in this study was the small sample size in the case-control cohorts, with a low overall statistical power (post-hoc power analysis = 19%).
Keywords: Psoriatic arthritis; South African Caucasian and Indian population; miR-146a rs2910164.