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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2013, Article ID 430239, 13 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2013/430239
Review Article

MicroRNAs Implicated in the Immunopathogenesis of Lupus Nephritis

1Department of Biomedical Sciences & Pathobiology, Virginia-Maryland Regional College of Veterinary Medicine, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, Blacksburg, VA 24061, USA
2Edward Via College of Osteopathic Medicine, Blacksburg, VA 24060, USA

Received 12 February 2013; Revised 20 May 2013; Accepted 12 June 2013

Academic Editor: Richard J. Quigg

Copyright © 2013 Cristen B. Chafin and Christopher M. Reilly. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

Abstract

Systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) is an autoimmune disease characterized by the deposition of immune complexes due to widespread loss of immune tolerance to nuclear self-antigens. Deposition in the renal glomeruli results in the development of lupus nephritis (LN), the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in SLE. In addition to the well-recognized genetic susceptibility to SLE, disease pathogenesis is influenced by epigenetic regulators such as microRNAs (miRNAs). miRNAs are small, noncoding RNAs that bind to the 3′ untranslated region of target mRNAs resulting in posttranscriptional gene modulation. miRNAs play an important and dynamic role in the activation of innate immune cells and are critical in regulating the adaptive immune response. Immune stimulation and the resulting cytokine milieu alter miRNA expression while miRNAs themselves modify cellular responses to stimulation. Here we examine dysregulated miRNAs implicated in LN pathogenesis from human SLE patients and murine lupus models. The effects of LN-associated miRNAs in the kidney, peripheral blood mononuclear cells, macrophages, mesangial cells, dendritic cells, and splenocytes are discussed. As the role of miRNAs in immunopathogenesis becomes delineated, it is likely that specific miRNAs may serve as targets for therapeutic intervention in the treatment of LN and other pathologies.