Circulating miRNA-150-5p is associated with immune-mediated early β-cell loss in a humanized mouse model

Xenotransplantation. 2019 Mar;26(2):e12474. doi: 10.1111/xen.12474. Epub 2018 Nov 21.


Background: Aberrant microRNA (miRNA) expression levels are associated with various graft rejections. We used our humanized mouse model with transplanted human islets to identify miRNAs in islet grafts related to xenograft rejection and circulating miRNAs associated with xenograft rejection-mediated β-cell loss.

Methods: Diabetic immunodeficient NOD.scid mice were transplanted with human islets and subsequently achieved stable normoglycemia. Lymphocytes from NOD mice were then adoptively transferred to the humanized mice to induce human β-cell destruction. Islet graft and plasma were collected immediately once blood glucose reached >200 mg/dL. miRNAs in the islet grafts and in the plasma with or without adoptive lymphocyte transfer (ALT) were measured using NanoString nCounter® miRNA Expression Assay and qPCR.

Results: A set of immune-related miRNAs was significantly increased in human islet grafts of ALT-treated mice compared to control mice. Of these miRNAs, miR-150-5p was significantly increased in the circulation of ALT-treated mice at tissue collection and the increase was a result of immune activation rather than simply the presence of lymphocytes in circulation. Furthermore, miR-150-5p was significantly increased in human islet graft and circulation prior to the development of hyperglycemia in the ALT-treated mice.

Conclusions: Our data demonstrated that immune-related miRNAs are associated with human islet xenograft rejection in mice. miR-150-5p is increased in human islet graft and in the circulation during islet xenograft rejection and β-cell destruction prior to hyperglycemia and may be an early biomarker for islet xenograft rejection.

Keywords: diabetes; islet; islet transplantation; miRNA; xenograft rejection.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Graft Rejection / genetics
  • Graft Rejection / immunology
  • Graft Survival / genetics
  • Graft Survival / immunology
  • Heterografts / immunology
  • Humans
  • Insulin-Secreting Cells / metabolism
  • Islets of Langerhans Transplantation / immunology*
  • Lymphocytes / immunology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred NOD
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / immunology
  • Transplantation, Heterologous* / methods


  • MicroRNAs
  • Mirn150 microRNA, mouse