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Review ARTICLE Provisionally accepted The full-text will be published soon. Notify me

Front. Immunol. | doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2019.01969

Metabolism and autoimmune responses: the microRNA connection

Alessandra Colamatteo1, Teresa Micillo2, Sara Bruzzaniti3, Clorinda Fusco1, Silvia Garavelli3,  Veronica De Rosa3,  Mario Galgani3, Maria I. Spagnuolo4, Francesca Di Rella5, Annibale A. Puca6,  Paola de Candia6 and  Giuseppe Matarese1*
  • 1Department of Molecular Medicine and Medical Biotechnology, University of Naples Federico II, Italy
  • 2Department of Biology, Polytechnic and Basic Sciences School, University of Naples Federico II, Italy
  • 3Laboratory of Immunology, Institute of Endocrinology and Experimental Oncology, National Research Council (IEOS-CNR), Italy
  • 4Department of Translational Medical Sciences, University of Naples Federico II, Italy
  • 5Department of Senology, Medical Oncology, National Cancer Institute G. Pascale Foundation (IRCCS), Italy
  • 6MultiMedica (IRCCS), Italy

Distinct metabolic pathways are known to regulate growth, differentiation, survival and activation of immune cells by providing energy and specific biosynthetic precursors. Compelling experimental evidence demonstrates that effector T cell functions are coupled with profound changes in cellular metabolism. Importantly, the effector T cell-dependent “anti-self” response characterizing the autoimmune diseases is accompanied by significant metabolic alterations. MicroRNAs (miRNAs), evolutionary conserved small non-coding RNA molecules that affect gene expression by binding to target messenger RNAs, are now known to regulate multiple functions of effector T cells, including the strength of their activation, thus contributing to immune homeostasis. In this review, we will examine the most recent studies that describe miRNA direct involvement in the metabolic reprogramming that marks effector T cell functions. In particular, we will focus on the work showing a connection between miRNA regulatory function and the molecular network dysregulation that leads to metabolic pathway derangement in autoimmunity. Finally, we will also speculate on the possibility that the interplay between miRNAs and metabolism in T cells may help identifying novel miRNA-based therapeutic strategies to treat effector T cell immunometabolic alterations in pathological conditions such as autoimmunity and chronic inflammation.

Keywords: T cells, Metabolic Regulation, Immunometabolism, miRNAs, Autoimmune Diseases

Received: 14 Jun 2019; Accepted: 05 Aug 2019.

Edited by:

Anna Ohradanova-Repic, Medical University of Vienna, Austria

Reviewed by:

Federica Marelli-Berg, Queen Mary University of London, United Kingdom
Stephan Blüml, Medical University of Vienna, Austria  

Copyright: © 2019 Colamatteo, Micillo, Bruzzaniti, Fusco, Garavelli, De Rosa, Galgani, Spagnuolo, Di Rella, Puca, de Candia and Matarese. 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: Prof. Giuseppe Matarese, Department of Molecular Medicine and Medical Biotechnology, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Campania, Italy,