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International journal of molecular sciences


The human brain and central nervous system (CNS) harbor a select sub-group of potentially pathogenic microRNAs (miRNAs), including a well-characterized NF-kB-sensitive Homo sapiens microRNA hsa-miRNA-146a-5p (miRNA-146a). miRNA-146a is significantly over-expressed in progressive and often lethal viral- and prion-mediated and related neurological syndromes associated with progressive inflammatory neurodegeneration. These include ~18 different viral-induced encephalopathies for which data are available, at least ~10 known prion diseases (PrD) of animals and humans, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other sporadic and progressive age-related neurological disorders. Despite the apparent lack of nucleic acids in prions, both DNA- and RNA-containing viruses along with prions significantly induce miRNA-146a in the infected host, but whether this represents part of the host’s adaptive immunity, innate-immune response or a mechanism to enable the invading prion or virus a successful infection is not well understood. Current findings suggest an early and highly interactive role for miRNA-146a: (i) as a major small noncoding RNA (sncRNA) regulator of innate-immune responses and inflammatory signaling in cells of the human brain and CNS; (ii) as a critical component of the complement system and immune-related neurological dysfunction; (iii) as an inducible sncRNA of the brain and CNS that lies at a critical intersection of several important neurobiological adaptive immune response processes with highly interactive associations involving complement factor H (CFH), Toll-like receptor pathways, the innate-immunity, cytokine production, apoptosis and neural cell decline; and (iv) as a potential biomarker for viral infection, TSE and AD and other neurological diseases in both animals and humans. In this report, we review the recent data supporting the idea that miRNA-146a may represent a novel and unique sncRNA-based biomarker for inflammatory neurodegeneration in multiple species. This paper further reviews the current state of knowledge regarding the nature and mechanism of miRNA-146a in viral and prion infection of the human brain and CNS with reference to AD wherever possible.

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Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License.