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MicroRNA-155 Is Involved in the Pathogenesis of Ulcerative Colitis by Targeting FOXO3a

Min, Min MD, PhD*,†; Peng, Lihua MD, PhD; Yang, Yunsheng MD, PhD; Guo, Mingzhou MD, PhD; Wang, Weifeng MD, PhD; Sun, Gang MD, PhD

doi: 10.1097/MIB.0000000000000009
Original Basic Science Articles

Background: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are important posttranscriptional regulators of gene expression. The precise role of miRNAs in ulcerative colitis (UC) is not completely understood. The purpose of this study was to identify miRNAs that are induced in patients with active UC and to assess the effect of miR-155 on improving intestinal inflammation.

Methods: The miRNA profiles in patients with active UC (n = 20) and healthy subjects (n = 16) were examined using miRNA microarrays. miR-155 upregulation was confirmed by quantitative RT-PCR. Regulation of the target gene FOXO3a expression by miR-155 was assessed using luciferase reporter construct assays and miR-155 mimic or inhibitor transfections. The effects of FOXO3a or miR-155 on IκBα or IL-8 were detected by Western blot or enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in HT29 cells, respectively.

Results: We identified 68 miRNAs that were differentially expressed (33 upregulated and 35 downregulated) in patients with active UC compared with healthy controls. One of the upregulated miRNAs in the UC tissue was miR-155 (1.22-fold, P < 0.03), which plays a key role in the regulation of inflammatory pathways. In patients with active UC, miR-155 was significantly upregulated, and the expression of FOXO3a dramatically decreased. Luciferase reporter assays demonstrated that miR-155 directly targets FOXO3a and affects the protein expression of FOXO3a in HT29 cells. Moreover, silenced FOXO3a and the overexpression of miR-155 increased the levels of IL-8 in TNF-α–treated HT29 cells by suppressing the inhibitory IκBα.

Conclusions: miR-155 appears to play a role in the intestinal inflammation of patients with active UC by downregulating the expression of FOXO3a. This process may activate the nuclear factor kappa B signaling pathway.

Supplemental Digital Content is Available in the Text.Article first Published online 27 February 2014

*Department of Gastroenterology and Hepatology, Affiliated Hospital of Academy of Military Medical Sciences, Beijing, China; and

Institute of Digestive Diseases, Chinese PLA General Hospital, Beijing, China.

Reprints: Yunsheng Yang, MD, PhD, Institute of Digestive Diseases, Chinese PLA General Hospital, 28 Fuxing Road, Beijing 100853, China (e-mail:

The authors have no conflicts of interest to disclose.

Supplemental digital content is available for this article. Direct URL citations appear in the printed text and are provided in the HTML and PDF versions of this article on the journal's Web site (

Received January 11, 2014

Accepted January 22, 2014

© Crohn's & Colitis Foundation of America, Inc.
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