Extracellular Vesicles in Plasma of Patients with Alcohol Hepatitis Show Significant Increase in miRNA-27a That Signals Naïve Monocytes to Differentiate into M2-Macrophages; Possible Therapeutic Potential Seen in Alcoholic Liver Disease (ALD)

Researchers at the University of Massachusetts Medical School have shown, in a study of patients with alcohol hepatitis, that alcohol increases extracellular vesicle (EV) production (mostly exosomes) in monocytes, that alcohol-exposed monocytes communicate with naive monocytes via EVs, and that microRNA-27a (miR-27a) cargo in monocyte-derived EVs can program naive monocytes to polarize into M2-macrophages. The authors conclude that, because EVs are know to function as an important method of cellular communication during diseases, it will be interesting to further explore the therapeutic potential of EVs in alcoholic liver disease (ALD). They noted that their data suggests that miR-27a is not only important for macrophage differentiation and polarization, but may also have other regulatory roles during ALD, which is beyond the scope of their present study. They wrote that “our study highlights a novel communication via EVs between immune cells in the presence of ethanol. Thus, further studies of the molecular mechanisms underlying cell-cell communication via the EVs will facilitate better understanding of the effects of alcohol on the immune cells.” The new work was reported online on November 2, 2015 in an open-access article in the prestigious Journal of Biological Chemistry. The article is titled “MicroRNA Cargo of Extracellular Vesicles from Alcohol-Exposed Monocytes Signals Naïve Monocytes to Differentiate into M2 Macrophages.” Co-first authors are Banishree Saha and Fatemeh Momen-Heravi and the senior author is Gyongyi Szabo (photo), M.D., Ph.D. The fourth author is Karen Kodys. Dr. Szabo, Professor in the Department of Medicine at U-Mass Medical School, earned her M.D. and Ph.D. in Hungary. Dr.
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