Altered microRNA expression levels in mononuclear cells of patients with pulmonary and pleural tuberculosis and their relation with components of the immune response

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Different lines of evidence demonstrate that microRNAs (miRNAs) play an important role in host–pathogen interactions. In this study we investigated the expression patterns of several miRNAs, most of them involved in regulating inflammatory responses, in patients with tuberculosis (TB). In order to understand the events occurring at the site of infection, we employed mononuclear cells obtained from both peripheral blood (PBMC) and pleural fluids (PFMC) of patients. Interestingly, we found that the miRNA signature of each compartment is different, with a strong down-regulation in PFMCs of miR-223, miR-144* and miR-421. In addition, we observed that miR-146a expression is also down-regulated in tuberculosis patients, both in PBMCs and PFMCs while miR-424 levels are elevated only in the peripheral compartments. We also showed that systemic expression of these miRNAs changes upon specific treatment and is associated with IL-6 levels, a cytokine playing a substantial role in TB immunopathology. Present results contribute to a better knowledge of the host responses in TB pathogenesis, pointing out the role of miRNAs in this disease.

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