Monday, February 13, 2012

Sjogren's Syndrome and MicroRNA

A recent study which looked at microRNAs, (small pieces of the genetic material RNA, which influences which and when genes are turned on or off) caught my attention when the results of the study included potential autoimmune diagnostic and treatment uses in the manipulation of these little bundles:

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous, non-coding, single-stranded RNAs about 21 nucleotides in length. miRNAs have been shown to regulate gene expression and thus influence a wide range of physiological and pathological processes.

Abnormal expression of miRNAs has been reported in autoimmune diseases, mainly in systemic lupus erythematosus and rheumatoid arthritis. miRNAs can be aberrantly expressed even in the different stages of disease progression, allowing miRNAs to be important biomarkers, to help understand the pathogenesis of the disease, and to monitor disease activity and effects of treatment. Different groups have demonstrated a link between miRNA expression and disease activity, as in the case of renal flares in lupus patients. Moreover, miRNAs are emerging as potential targets for new therapeutic strategies of autoimmune disorders. Taken together, recent data demonstrate that miRNAs can influence mechanisms involved in the pathogenesis, relapse, and specific organ involvement of autoimmune diseases. The ultimate goal is the identification of a miRNA target or targets that could be manipulated through specific therapies, aiming at activation or inhibition of specific miRNAs responsible for the development of disease.

It is now apparent that miRNAs can potentially regulate every aspect of cellular activity, from dierentiation and proliferation to apoptosis, and they can also modulate a large range of physiological and pathological processes.

The study focused on several autoimmune diseases including Sjogren's syndrome:

Michael and colleagues explored the presence of miRNAs in saliva exosomes isolated from parotid and submandibular glands of patients with SS.They have shown that miRNAs can be identified in saliva, which suggests it may be possible to obtain information from these target organs without the need for invasive methods, such as biopsies.

The study authors conclude:

...investigations have shown that miRNA-based gene therapies targeting dysregulated miRNAs have the potential to become therapeutic tools.

Interesting. Gene-based therapy in the treatment of autoimmune disease. I'm keeping an eye on this one.

1 comment:

ShEiLa said...

Very interesting... thanks for sharing.