OBJECTIVES: The goal of this study was to investigate whether microRNA-155 might be a potential therapeutic target for Behcet's disease (BD). METHODS: Expression levels of miR-155 were quantified using TaqMan microRNA assays in peripheral blood mononuclear cells and in isolated CD4+ T cells from BD patients and healthy controls. To identify targets of miR-155, luciferase reporter assays and western blotting were performed. The effect of miR-155 on Th17 polarisation was analysed in patients with active BD by using flow cytometry and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. RESULTS: The expression of miR-155 and IL-17 was significantly increased in CD4+ T cells of patients with active BD. A luciferase reporter assay and western blot showed that Ets-1 expression was reduced by miR-155 mimics. Furthermore, the expression of Ets-1 was significantly decreased in patients with active BD compared to healthy controls. More importantly, repression of miR-155 in CD4+ T cells from active BD patients increased Ets-1 expression and reduced the number of IL- 17-expressing T cells and overall IL-17 production. CONCLUSIONS: MiR-155 regulates the Th17 immune response by targeting Ets-1. Suppression of miR-155 reduced the amount of pathogenic IL-17-expressing T cells and may be a potential therapeutic strategy for BD.
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