Increased expression of miR142 and miR155 in glial and immune cells after traumatic brain injury may contribute to neuroinflammation via astrocyte activation
Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is associated with the pathological activation of immune‐competent cells in the brain, such as astrocytes, microglia and infiltrating immune blood cells, resulting in chronic inflammation and gliosis. This may contribute to the secondary injury after TBI, thus understanding of these processes is crucial for the development of effective treatments of post‐traumatic pathologies. MicroRNAs (miRNAs, miRs) are small noncoding RNAs, functioning as posttranscriptional regulators of gene expression. The increased expression of inflammation‐associated microRNAs miR155 and miR142 has been reported after TBI in rats. However, expression of these miRNAs in the human brain post‐TBI is not studied and their functions are not well understood. Moreover, circulating miR155 and miR142 are candidate biomarkers. Therefore, we characterized miR142 and miR155 expression in the perilesional cortex and plasma of rats that underwent lateral fluid‐percussion injury, a model for TBI and in the human perilesional cortex post‐TBI. We demonstrated higher miR155 and miR142 expression in the perilesional cortex of rats 2 weeks post‐TBI. In plasma, miR155 was associated with proteins and miR142 with extracellular vesicles, however their expression did not change. In the human perilesional cortex miR155 was most prominently expressed by activated astrocytes, whereas miR142 was expressed predominantly by microglia, macrophages and lymphocytes. Pro‐inflammatory medium from macrophage‐like cells stimulated miR155 expression in astrocytes and overexpression of miR142 in these cells further potentiated a pro‐inflammatory state of activated astrocytes. We conclude that miR155 and miR142 promote brain inflammation via astrocyte activation and may be involved in the secondary brain injury after TBI.