MiR-144-3p is associated with pathological inflammation in patients infected with Mycobacteroides abscessus

Exp Mol Med. 2021 Jan;53(1):136-149. doi: 10.1038/s12276-020-00552-0. Epub 2021 Jan 20.


Infection with rapidly growing nontuberculous mycobacteria is emerging as a global health issue; however, key host factors remain elusive. Here, we investigated the characteristic immune profiles of peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from patients infected with Mycobacteroides abscessus subsp. abscessus (Mabc) and M. abscessus subsp. massiliense (Mmass). Using an integrated analysis of global mRNA and microRNA expression profiles, we found that several inflammatory cytokines/chemokines [interleukin (IL)-1β, IL-6, C-X-C motif chemokine ligand 2, and C-C motif chemokine ligand 2] and miR-144-3p were significantly upregulated in PBMCs from patients compared with those from healthy controls (HCs). Notably, there was a strong correlation between the expression levels of miR-144-3p and proinflammatory cytokines/chemokines. Similarly, upregulated expression of miR-144-3p and proinflammatory cytokines/chemokines was found in macrophages and lungs from mice after infection with Mabc and Mmass. We showed that the expression of negative regulators of inflammation (SARM1 and TNIP3) was significantly downregulated in PBMCs from the patients, although they were not putative targets of miR-144-3p. Furthermore, overexpression of miR-144-3p led to a marked increase in proinflammatory cytokines/chemokines and promoted bacterial growth in macrophages. Together, our results highlight the importance of miR-144-3p linking to pathological inflammation during M. abscessus infection.