Aims/hypothesis: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a novel class of potential biomarkers emerging in many diseases, including type 1 diabetes. Here, we aim to analyse a panel of circulating miRNAs in non-obese diabetic (NOD) mice and individuals with type 1 diabetes.
Methods: We adopted standardised methodologies for extracting miRNAs from small sample volumes to evaluate a profiling panel of mature miRNAs in paired plasma and laser-captured microdissected immune-infiltrated islets of recently diabetic and normoglycaemic NOD mice. Moreover, we validated the findings during disease progression and remission after anti-CD3 therapy in NOD mice, as well as in individuals with type 1 diabetes.
Results: Plasma levels of five miRNAs were downregulated in diabetic vs normoglycaemic mice. Of those, miR-409-3p was also downregulated in situ in the immune islet infiltrates of diabetic mice, suggesting an association with disease pathogenesis. Target-prediction tools linked miR-409-3p to immune- and metabolism-related signalling molecules. In situ miR-409-3p expression correlated with insulitis severity, and CD8+ central memory T cells were found to be enriched in miR-409-3p. Plasma miR-409-3p levels gradually decreased during diabetes development and improved with disease remission after anti-CD3 antibody therapy. Finally, plasma miR-409-3p levels were lower in people recently diagnosed with type 1 diabetes compared with a non-diabetic control group, and levels were inversely correlated with HbA1c levels.
Conclusions/interpretation: We propose that miR-409-3p may represent a new circulating biomarker of islet inflammation and type 1 diabetes severity.
Keywords: Anti-CD3 therapy; Biomarker; Inflammation; MicroRNA; Progression; Type 1 diabetes.