The Effect of Sialic Acid on the Expression of miR-218, NF-kB, MMP-9, and TIMP-1


Sialic acid (N-acetylneuraminic acid, NANA) is found at all cell surfaces of vertebrates. Although it is widely accepted that sialic acid is an essential substrate for brain development via a significant role in nerve transfers, structure of glycosides, and synaptogenesis phenomena, there are some reports on the elevated levels of sialic acid and prevalence of neurodegeneration. Matrix metalloproteases (MMPs) and tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases (TIMPs) are involved in neuroinflammation disorders and produced by many cell types, including activated T cells, macrophages, neurons, astrocytes, and microglial cells. It can be hypothesized that sialic acid may have a potentially critical role in regulation of a wide range of uncovered neurodegeneration factors as its downstream targets. In this study, for the first time, we aimed to analyze the possible effect of the sialic acid solution exposure in the human C118 cell line, which was derived from a human brain astrocytoma (glial cells), on the expression patterns of miR-218, NF-kB, MMP-9, and TIMP-1. For MMP-9, protein levels were studied too. Half maximal inhibitory concentration (IC50) value of NANA was obtained by MTT assay. Glial cell line was treated with sialic acid (300, 500, and 1000 µg/ml) for 24 h to investigate the effects of this ligand on the expression of miR-218, NF-kB, MMP-9, and TIMP-1 genes. Protein levels were checked by Western blotting, and by using zymography, the gelatinolytic activity of MMP-9 secreted into conditioned media was assayed. At 300 µM, 500 µM, and 1000 µM sialic acid treatments, the expression of miR-218 was downregulated; subsequently, the NF-kB, MMP-9, and TIMP-1 genes as well as their protein expressions were upregulated. More interestingly, the enzyme activity of secreted MMP-9 was upregulated too (p-values ≤ 0.05). This study could demonstrate the significant effect of sialic acid on miR-218, NF-kB, MMP-9 , and TIMP-1 expressions in gene and protein levels and also the levels of enzyme activity of secreted MMP-9. Therefore, provided information indicates the novel idea of a possible linkage between sialic acid species and regulation of these neuroinflammation genes in Glial cell line.

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Alzheimer disease


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis


Central nervous system


Dulbecco’s modified Eagle’s medium


Fetal bovine serum


Half maximal inhibitory concentration


Matrix metalloproteases


Multiple sclerosis


Neural cell adhesion molecules


N-Acetylneuraminic acid


Nuclear factor-kappa B


Parkinson disease

polySia or PSA:

Polysialic acid


Tissue inhibitor of metalloproteinases


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This project was supported by Master's thesis grant (code: 96/3/02/16670) from Shahid Chamran University of Ahvaz. The authors would like to thank all the participants for taking part in this study and specially Dr. Maryam Cheraghzadeh, Ms. Tahereh Seifi, and Mr. Saleh Zahraei for supporting this project. The authors wish to appreciate Department of Clinical Biochemistry of Jundishapur University of Medical Science. Also they would like to appreciate Dr. Leila Heidarvand for comments and suggestions on manuscript improvement.

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Correspondence to Mohammad Shafiei.

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Shabani Sadr, N.K., Shafiei, M., Galehdari, H. et al. The Effect of Sialic Acid on the Expression of miR-218, NF-kB, MMP-9, and TIMP-1. Biochem Genet (2020).

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  • Metalloproteinases
  • MMP-9
  • TIMP-1
  • miR-218
  • NF-kB
  • Gelatin zymography
  • Western blot
  • N-acetylneuraminicacid
  • Neurodegenerative disorders