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MicroRNA214 Is Associated With Progression of Ulcerative Colitis, and Inhibition Reduces Development of Colitis and Colitis-Associated Cancer in Mice

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Background & Aims Persistent activation of the inflammatory response contributes to the development of inflammatory bowel diseases, which increase the risk of colorectal cancer. We aimed to identify microRNAs that regulate inflammation during the development of ulcerative colitis (UC) and progression to colitis-associated colon cancer (CAC). Methods We performed a quantitative polymerase chain reaction analysis to measure microRNAs in 401 colon specimens from patients with UC, Crohn's disease, irritable bowel syndrome, sporadic colorectal cancer, or CAC, as well as subjects without these disorders (controls); levels were correlated with clinical features and disease activity of patients. Colitis was induced in mice by administration of dextran sodium sulfate (DSS), and carcinogenesis was induced by addition of azoxymethane; some mice also were given an inhibitor of microRNA214 (miR214). Results A high-throughput functional screen of the human microRNAome found that miR214 regulated the activity of nuclear factor-κB. Higher levels of miR214 were detected in colon tissues from patients with active UC or CAC than from patients with other disorders or controls and correlated with disease progression. Bioinformatic and genome-wide profile analyses showed that miR214 activates an inflammatory response and is amplified through a feedback loop circuit mediated by phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) and PDZ and LIM domain 2 (PDLIM2). Interleukin-6 induced signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 (STAT3)-mediated transcription of miR214. A miR214 chemical inhibitor blocked this circuit and reduced the severity of DSS-induced colitis in mice, as well as the number and size of tumors that formed in mice given azoxymethane and DSS. In fresh colonic biopsy specimens from patients with active UC, the miR214 inhibitor reduced inflammation by increasing levels of PDLIM2 and PTEN. Conclusions Interleukin-6 up-regulates STAT3-mediated transcription of miR214 in colon tissues, which reduces levels of PDLIM2 and PTEN, increases phosphorylation of AKT, and activates nuclear factor-κB. The activity of this circuit correlates with disease activity in patients with UC and progression to colorectal cancer.

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