Faecal microRNAs: indicators of imbalance at the host-microbe interface?

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Moloney, Gerard M.
Viola, Maria F.
Hoban, Alan E.
Dinan, Timothy G.
Cryan, John F.
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Wageningen Academic Publishers
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The enteric microbiota is characterised by a balance and composition that is unique to the host. It is important to understand the mechanisms through which the host can maintain the composition of the gut microbiota. MicroRNAs (miRNA) are implicated in intercellular communication and have been isolated from bodily fluids including stool. Recent findings suggest that miRNA produced by the host’s intestinal epithelial cells (IECs) participate in shaping the microbiota. To investigate whether miRNA expression was influenced by the gut microbiota we measured the expression of miRNAs expressed by intestinal epithelial cells in faeces. Specifically, we measured miRNA expression in faeces from germ-free (GF) and conventional mice and similarly in a rat model of antibiotic-mediated depletion of the gut microbiota control rats. In adult male GF and conventional mice and adult Sprague Dawley (SD) rats were treated with a combination of antibiotics for 8 weeks; total RNA was extracted from faecal pellets taken at week 0, 2, 4, 6 week 8 and the expression of let-7b-3p, miR-141-3p, miR-200a-3p and miR-1224-5p (miRNAs known to be expressed in IECs) were measured relative to U6 at each time point using qRT-PCR. In GF animals the expression of let-7b, miR-141 and miR-200a in faeces was lower compared to conventional mice. Following antibiotic-mediated depletion of gut microbiota, rats showed two divergent profiles of miRNA expression. Following two weeks of antibiotic treatment, the expression of let-7b and miR-1224 dropped significantly and remained low for the remainder of the study. The expression of miR-200a and miR-141 was significantly higher at week 2 than before antibiotic treatment commenced. Subsequently, the expression of miR-200a and miR-141 decreased at week 4 and continued to decrease at week 6. This data demonstrates that miRNAs can be used as an independent, non-invasive marker of microbial fluctuations along with gut pathology in the intestine.
Microbiota , MicroRNA , Enteric , Stool , Host
Moloney, G. M., Viola, M. F., Hoban, A. E., Dinan, T. G. and Cryan, J. F. 'Faecal microRNAs: indicators of imbalance at the host-microbe interface?', Beneficial Microbes, 9(2), pp.175-183 doi: 10.3920/bm2017.0013