MicroRNA-223 Regulates Retinal Function and Inflammation in the Healthy and Degenerating Retina

Nilisha Fernando, Josephine H.C. Wong, Shannon Das, Catherine Dietrich, Riemke Aggio-Bruce, Adrian V. Cioanca, Yvette Wooff, Joshua A. Chu-Tan, Ulrike Schumann, Chinh Ngo, Rohan W. Essex, Camilla Dorian, Sarah A. Robertson, Si Ming Man, Jan Provis, Riccardo Natoli*

*Corresponding author for this work

    Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

    16 Citations (Scopus)

    Abstract

    Introduction: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, non-coding RNA molecules that have powerful regulatory properties, with the ability to regulate multiple messenger RNAs (mRNAs) and biological pathways. MicroRNA-223-3p (miR-223) is known to be a critical regulator of the innate immune response, and its dysregulation is thought to play a role in inflammatory disease progression. Despite miR-223 upregulation in numerous neurodegenerative conditions, largely in cells of the myeloid lineage, the role of miR-223 in the retina is relatively unexplored. Here, we investigated miR-223 in the healthy retina and in response to retinal degeneration. Methods: miR-223-null mice were investigated in control and photo-oxidative damage-induced degeneration conditions. Encapsulated miR-223 mimics were intravitreally and intravenously injected into C57BL/6J wild-type mice. Retinal functional responses were measured using electroretinography (ERG), while extracted retinas were investigated by retinal histology (TUNEL and immunohistochemistry) and molecular analysis (qPCR and FACS). Results: Retinal function in miR-223–/– mice was adversely affected, indicating that miR-223 may be critical in regulating the retinal response. In degeneration, miR-223 was elevated in the retina, circulating serum, and retinal extracellular vesicles. Conversely, retinal microglia and macrophages displayed a downregulation of miR-223. Further, isolated CD11b+ inflammatory cells from the retinas and circulation of miR-223-null mice showed an upregulation of pro-inflammatory genes that are critically linked to retinal inflammation and progressive photoreceptor loss. Finally, both local and systemic delivery of miR-223 mimics improved retinal function in mice undergoing retinal degeneration. Conclusion: miR-223 is required for maintaining normal retinal function, as well as regulating inflammation in microglia and macrophages. Further investigations are required to determine the targets of miR-223 and their key biological pathways and interactions that are relevant to retinal diseases. Future studies should investigate whether sustained delivery of miR-223 into the retina is sufficient to target these pathways and protect the retina from progressive degeneration.

    Original languageEnglish
    Article number516
    JournalFrontiers in Cell and Developmental Biology
    Volume8
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 26 Jun 2020

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