MiRNAs in Systemic Sclerosis Patients with Pulmonary Arterial Hypertension: Markers and Effectors

Mor Zaaroor Levy, Noa Rabinowicz, Maia Yamila Kohon, Avshalom Shalom, Ariel Berl, Tzipi Hornik-Lurie, Liat Drucker, Shelly Tartakover Matalon*, Yair Levy*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Background: Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH) is a major cause of death in systemic sclerosis (SSc). Early detection may improve patient outcomes. Methods: We searched for circulating miRNAs that would constitute biomarkers in SSc patients with PAH (SSc-PAH). We compared miRNA levels and laboratory parameters while evaluating miRNA levels in white blood cells (WBCs) and myofibroblasts. Results: Our study found: 1) miR-26 and miR-let-7d levels were significantly lower in SSc-PAH (n = 12) versus SSc without PAH (SSc-noPAH) patients (n = 25); 2) a positive correlation between miR-26 and miR-let-7d and complement-C3; 3) GO-annotations of genes that are miR-26/miR-let-7d targets and that are expressed in myofibroblast cells, suggesting that these miRNAs regulate the TGF-β-pathway; 4) reduced levels of both miRNAs accompanied fibroblast differentiation to myofibroblasts, while macitentan (endothelin receptor-antagonist) increased the levels. WBCs of SSc-noPAH and SSc-PAH patients contained equal amounts of miR-26/miR-let-7d. During the study, an echocardiograph that predicted PAH development, showed increased pulmonary artery pressure in three SSc-noPAH patients. At study initiation, those patients and an additional SSc-noPAH patient, who eventually developed PAH, had miR-let-7d/miR-26 levels similar to those of SSc-PAH patients. This implies that reduced miR-let-7d/miR-26 levels might be an early indication of PAH. Conclusions: miR-26 and miR-let-7d may be serological markers for SSc-PAH. The results of our study suggest their involvement in myofibroblast differentiation and complement pathway activation, both of which are active in PAH development.

Original languageEnglish
Article number629
JournalBiomedicines
Volume10
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2022

Keywords

  • Biomarkers
  • Comple-ment
  • Macitentan
  • MiRNA
  • Myofibroblasts
  • Pulmonary arterial hypertension (PAH)
  • Systemic sclerosis

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