A disequilibrium between immunosuppressive Tregs and inflammatory IL-17–producing Th17 cells is a hallmark of autoimmune diseases, including multiple sclerosis (MS). However, the molecular mechanisms underlying the Treg and Th17 imbalance in CNS autoimmunity remain largely unclear. Identifying the factors that drive this imbalance is of high clinical interest. Here, we report a major disease-promoting role for microRNA-92a (miR-92a) in CNS autoimmunity. miR-92a was elevated in experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), and its loss attenuated EAE. Mechanistically, miR-92a mediated EAE susceptibility in a T cell–intrinsic manner by restricting Treg induction and suppressive capacity, while supporting Th17 responses, by directly repressing the transcription factor Foxo1. Although miR-92a did not directly alter Th1 differentiation, it appeared to indirectly promote Th1 cells by inhibiting Treg responses. Correspondingly, miR-92a inhibitor therapy ameliorated EAE by concomitantly boosting Treg responses and dampening inflammatory T cell responses. Analogous to our findings in mice, miR-92a was elevated in CD4+ T cells from patients with MS, and miR-92a silencing in patients’ T cells promoted Treg development but limited Th17 differentiation. Together, our results demonstrate that miR-92a drives CNS autoimmunity by sustaining the Treg/Th17 imbalance and implicate miR-92a as a potential therapeutic target for MS.
Mai Fujiwara, Radhika Raheja, Lucien P. Garo, Amrendra K. Ajay, Ryoko Kadowaki-Saga, Sukrut H. Karandikar, Galina Gabriely, Rajesh Krishnan, Vanessa Beynon, Anu Paul, Amee Patel, Shrishti Saxena, Dan Hu, Brian C. Healy, Tanuja Chitnis, Roopali Gandhi, Howard L. Weiner, Gopal Murugaiyan