Research MicroRNA as new targets for treatment in MS

Reijerkerk A, Lopez-Ramirez MA, van Het Hof B, Drexhage JA, Kamphuis WW, Kooij G, Vos JB, van der Pouw Kraan TC, van Zonneveld AJ, Horrevoets AJ, Prat A, Romero IA, de Vries HE. MicroRNAs Regulate Human Brain Endothelial Cell-Barrier Function in Inflammation: Implications forMultiple Sclerosis. J Neurosci. 2013;33(16):6857-6863.

Blood-brain barrier (BBB) dysfunction is a major hallmark of many neurological diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS). Using a genomics approach, we defined a microRNA signature that is diminished at the BBB of MS patients. In particular, miR-125a-5p is a key regulator of brain endothelial tightness and immune cell efflux. Our findings suggest that repair of a disturbed BBB through microRNAs may represent a novel avenue for effective treatment of MS.

Dutta R, Chomyk AM, Chang A, Ribaudo MV, Deckard SA, Doud MK, Edberg DD, Bai B, Li M, Baranzini SE, Fox RJ, Staugaitis SM, Macklin WB, Trapp BD. Hippocampal demyelination and memory dysfunction are associated with increased levels of the neuronal microRNA miR-124 and reduced AMPA receptors. Ann Neurol. 2013 Feb. doi: 10.1002/ana.23860. [Epub ahead of print]

OBJECTIVE: Hippocampal demyelination, a common feature of postmortem multiple sclerosis (MS) brains, reduces neuronal gene expression and is a likely contributor to the memory impairment that is found in >40% of individuals with MS. How demyelination alters neuronal gene expression is unknown.
METHODS: To explore whether loss of hippocampal myelin alters expression of neuronal microRNAs (miRNAs), we compared miRNA profiles from myelinated and demyelinated hippocampi from postmortem MS brains and performed validation studies.
RESULTS: A network-based interaction analysis depicts a correlation between increased neuronal miRNAs and decreased neuronal genes identified in our previous study. The neuronal miRNA miR-124 was increased in demyelinated MS hippocampi and targets mRNAs encoding 26 neuronal proteins that were decreased in demyelinated hippocampus, including the ionotrophic glutamate receptors AMPA2 and AMPA3. Hippocampal demyelination in mice also increased miR-124, reduced expression of AMPA receptors, and decreased memory performance in water maze tests. Remyelination of the mouse hippocampus reversed these changes.
INTERPRETATION: We establish here that myelin alters neuronal gene expression and function by modulating the levels of the neuronal miRNA miR-124. Inhibition of miR-124 in hippocampal neurons may provide a therapeutic approach to improve memory performance in MS patients. 

A new class of regulators of this process is called microRNA, these regulate gene function see below for further detail. 

These two studies implicate different microRNA in certain functions, one is at the level of the blood brain barrier other may influence memory. They are a way that the influence of genes can be altered. This process is called epigenetics

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