MicroRNA Signature of Intestinal Acute Cellular Rejection in Formalin-Fixed Paraffin-Embedded Mucosal Biopsies


Phillip Ruiz, pruiz@med.miami.edu


Despite continuous improvement of immunosuppression, small bowel transplantation (SBT) is plagued by a high incidence of acute cellular rejection (ACR) that is frequently intractable. Therefore, there is a need to uncover novel insights that will lead to strategies to achieve better control of ACR. We hypothesized that particular miRNAs provide critical regulation of the intragraft immune response. The aim of our study was to identify miRNAs involved in intestinal ACR. We examined 26 small intestinal mucosal biopsies (AR/NR group; 15/11) obtained from recipients after SBT or multivisceral transplantation. We investigated the expression of 384 mature human miRNAs and 280 mRNAs associated with immune, inflammation and apoptosis processes. We identified differentially expressed 28 miRNAs and 58 mRNAs that characterized intestinal ACR. We found a strong positive correlation between the intragraft expression levels of three miRNAs (miR-142-3p, miR-886-3p and miR-132) and 17 mRNAs including CTLA4 and GZMB. We visualized these miRNAs within cells expressing CD3 and CD14 proteins in explanted intestinal allografts with severe ACR. Our data suggested that miRNAs have a critical role in the activation of infiltrating cells during intestinal ACR. These differences in miRNA expression patterns can be used to identify novel biomarkers and therapeutic targets for immunosuppressive agents.