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MicroRNA-31 Targets Thymic Stromal Lymphopoietin in Mucosal Infiltrated CD4+ T Cells: A Role in Achieving Mucosal Healing in Ulcerative Colitis?

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


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  • Simon R Whiteoak
  • Andrew Claridge
  • Clare A Balendran
  • Richard J Harris
  • Markus Gwiggner
  • Victor P Bondanese
  • Fredrik Erlandsson
  • Mark Berner Hansen
  • J R Fraser Cummings
  • Tilman Sanchez-Elsner
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Background: Ulcerative colitis (UC) is characterized by disruption of the mucosal intestinal barrier. MicroRNAs, single-stranded noncoding RNAs of approximately 22nt, are dysregulated in UC. MicroRNAs targeting thymic stromal lymphopoietin (TSLP), a cytokine involved in T-cell maturation and polarization, may be involved in regulating UC inflammation and mucosal healing.

Methods: Biopsy samples from non-UC (n = 38), inactive UC (n = 18), and active UC (n = 23) patients were analyzed for mRNA (real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction) or TSLP protein expression (enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay). Flow cytometry was used to isolate CD4+ T cells from biopsies. The functional mechanism was shown using luciferase assays and antago-miR transfections. The TSLP/miR-31 association was analyzed on 196 subjects from a previous clinical trial that tested the anti-IL-13 drug tralokinumab, whereas mucosal healing effects were studied on a subset of patients (n = 13) from this trial.

Results: We found that TSLP is reduced at both mRNA and protein levels in inflamed UC patients when compared with healthy subjects, in both whole biopsies and biopsy-isolated CD4+ CD25+ T cells. The expression of miR-31, predicted to target TSLP, inversely co-related to the levels of TSLP mRNA in T cells. Blocking miR-31 in vitro in T cells increased both TSLP mRNA expression and protein secretion. Luciferase assays showed that miR-31 directly targeted TSLP mRNA, suggesting a direct mechanistic link. We also found that TSLP is increased in patients who achieve mucosal healing, comparing biopsies before and after treatment from the tralokinumab trial.

Conclusions: Our data suggest a role for TSLP in promoting mucosal healing and regulating inflammation in UC, whereas miR-31 can directly block this effect.

Original languageEnglish
JournalInflammatory Bowel Diseases
Issue number11
Pages (from-to)2377-2385
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 12 Oct 2018

ID: 56195186