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Front. Immunol. | doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2018.03012

The multifaceted interface between cytokines and microRNAs: an ancient mechanism to regulate the good and the bad of inflammation

  • 1MultiMedica (IRCCS), Italy
  • 2"Gaetano Salvatore" Institute for Endocrinology and Oncology , National Research Council, Italy

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are evolutionary conserved small non-coding RNA molecules that affect gene expression by binding to target messenger RNAs and play a role in biological processes like cell growth, differentiation and death.
Different CD4+ T cell subsets such as Th1, Th2, Th17 and T regulatory cells, exert a distinct role in effector and regulatory-type immune responses. miRNAs have been shown to respond to dynamic micro-environmental cues and regulate multiple functions of T cell subsets including their development, survival and activation. Thus, miRNA functions contribute to immune homeostasis, on the one side, and to the control of immune tolerance, on the other. Among the most important proteins whose expression is targeted by miRNAs, there are the cytokines, that act as both key upstream signals and major functional outputs, and that, in turn, can affect miRNA level. Here, we analyze what is known about the regulatory circuit of miRNAs and cytokines in CD4+ T lymphocytes, and how this bidirectional system is dysregulated in conditions of pathological inflammation and autoimmunity. Furthermore, we describe how different T cell subsets release distinct fingerprints of miRNAs that modify the extracellular milieu and the inter-cellular communication between immune cells at the autocrine, paracrine and endocrine level. In conclusion, a deeper knowledge of the interplay between miRNAs and cytokines in T cells may have pivotal implications for finding novel therapeutic strategies to target inflammation and autoimmune disorders.

Keywords: microRNA, Cytokines, CD4+ Th cell subsets, Inflammation, Autoimmunity

Received: 14 Sep 2018; Accepted: 05 Dec 2018.

Edited by:

Daniela Bosisio, Università degli Studi di Brescia, Italy

Reviewed by:

Paola Italiani, Italian National Research Council, Italy
Edoardo Fiorillo, Institute for Genetic and Biomedical Research (IRGB), Italy  

Copyright: © 2018 Garavelli, De Rosa and de Candia. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) and the copyright owner(s) are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

* Correspondence: Dr. Paola de Candia, MultiMedica (IRCCS), Milan, Italy,