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Circulating Extracellular microRNA in Systemic Autoimmunity

  • Niels H. H. HeegaardEmail author
  • Anting Liu Carlsen
  • Kerstin Skovgaard
  • Peter M. H. Heegaard
Chapter
Part of the Experientia Supplementum book series (EXS, volume 106)

Abstract

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are differentially regulated in healthy, activated, inflamed, neoplastic, or otherwise pathological cells and tissues. While their main functions are executed intracellularly, many miRNAs can reproducibly be detected extracellularly in plasma and serum. This circulating, extracellular miRNA is protected against degradation by complexation with carrier proteins and/or by being enclosed in subcellular membrane vesicles. This, together with their tissue- and disease-specific expression, has fuelled the interest in using circulating microRNA profiles as harbingers of disease, i.e., as diagnostic analytes and as clues to dysregulated pathways in disease. Many studies show that inflammation and immune dysregulation, e.g., in autoimmune diseases, are associated with distinct miRNA expression changes in targeted tissues and in innate and adaptive immunity cells such as lymphocytes, natural killer cells, neutrophil granulocytes, and monocyte–macrophages. Exploratory studies (only validated in a few cases) also show that specific profiles of circulating miRNAs are associated with different systemic autoimmune diseases including systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE), systemic sclerosis, and rheumatoid arthritis. Even though the link between cellular alterations and extracellular profiles is still unpredictable, the data suggest that circulating miRNAs in autoimmunity may become diagnostically useful. Here, we review important circulating miRNAs in animal models of inflammation and in systemic autoimmunity and summarize some proposed functions of miRNAs in immune regulation and dysregulation. We conclude that the studies suggest new hypotheses and additional experiments, and that further diagnostic development is highly dependent on analytical method development and on obtaining sufficient numbers of uniformly processed samples from clinically well-characterized patients and controls.

Keywords

Circulating microRNA Autoimmune disease Immune system Animal models Immunomodulation 

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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Niels H. H. Heegaard
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  • Anting Liu Carlsen
    • 3
    • 4
  • Kerstin Skovgaard
    • 5
  • Peter M. H. Heegaard
    • 5
  1. 1.Department of Autoimmunology and BiomarkersStatens Serum InstitutCopenhagen SDenmark
  2. 2.Department of Clinical Biochemistry and PharmacologyOdense University HospitalOdense CDenmark
  3. 3.Department of Congenital DisordersStatens Serum InstitutCopenhagen SDenmark
  4. 4.Department of Autoimmunology and BiomarkersStatens Serum InstitutCopenhagen SDenmark
  5. 5.National Veterinary InstituteTechnical University of DenmarkLyngbyDenmark

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