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MicroRNA-133α regulates neurotensin-associated colonic inflammation in colonic epithelial cells and experimental colitis.

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Ulcerative colitis (UC) and Crohn's Disease (CD) are the two most common forms of Inflammatory Bowel Diseases (IBD) marked by chronic and persistent inflammation. Neurotensin (NT), together with its receptor, NT receptor 1 (NTR1), are important mediators in intestinal inflammation and their expression is upregulated in the intestine of experimental colitis models and UC colonic biopsies. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short, non-coding RNA molecules which act as transcription repressors. We have previously shown that NT exposure upregulates miR-133α expression in human colonocytes NCM460 cells overexpressing NTR1 (NCM460-NTR1). Recently, miR-133α was further examined forits role in NT-associated proinflammatory signaling cascades and acute colitis in vivo. Our study shows that NT-induced miR-133α upregulation modulates NF-κB phosphorylation and promotes proinflammatory cytokine production. In addition, intracolonicinjection of antisense-miR-133α before colitis induction improves histological scores and proinflammatory cytokine transcription. More importantly, dysregulation of miR-133α levels and aftiphilin (AFTPH), a newly-identified miR-133α downstream target, is found only in UC patients, but not in patients with CD. Taken together, we identified NTR1/miR-133α/aftiphilin as a novel regulatory axis involved in NT-associated colonic inflammation in human colonocytes, acute colitis mouse model and in colonic biopsies from UC patients. Our results also provide evidence that colonic levels of NTR1, miR-133α and aftiphilin may also serve as potential biomarkers in UC.

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