• experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis;
  • interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase-1;
  • miR-146a;
  • RNA interference;
  • tumour necrosis factor receptor-associated factor-6


MicroRNAs have been shown to be important regulators of immune homeostasis as patients with aberrant microRNA expression appeared to be more susceptible to autoimmune diseases. We recently found that miR-146a was up-regulated in activated B cells in response to rat acetylcholine receptor (AChR) α-subunit 97-116 peptide, and this up-regulation was significantly attenuated by AntagomiR-146a. Our data also demonstrated that silencing miR-146a with its inhibitor AntagomiR-146a effectively ameliorated clinical myasthenic symptoms in mice with ongoing experimental autoimmune myasthenia gravis. Furthermore, multiple defects were observed after miR-146a was knocked down in B cells, including decreased anti-R97-116 antibody production and class switching, reduced numbers of plasma cells, memory B cells and B-1 cells, and weakened activation of B cells. Previously, miR-146a has been identified as a nuclear factor-κB-dependent gene and predicted to base pair with the tumour necrosis factor receptor-associated factor 6 (TRAF6) and interleukin-1 receptor-associated kinase 1 (IRAK1) genes to regulate the immune response. However, our study proved that miR-146a inhibition had no effect on the expression of TRAF6 and IRAK1 in B cells. This result suggests that the function of miR-146a in B cells does not involve these two target molecules. We conclude that silencing miR-146a exerts its therapeutic effects by influencing the B-cell functions that contribute to the autoimmune pathogenesis of myasthenia gravis.