Systemic sclerosis (SSc) or scleroderma is a multiorgan rheumatoid disease characterized by skin tightening or organ dysfunction due to fibrosis, vascular damage, and autoimmunity. No specific cause has been discovered for this illness, and hence no effective treatment exists for it. On the other hand, due to the lack of diagnostic biomarkers capable of effectively and specifically differentiating the patients, early diagnosis has not been possible. Due to their potent regulatory roles in molecular pathways, microRNAs are among the novel candidates for the diagnosis and treatment of diseases like SSc. MiR-27a is a microRNA known for its role in the pathogenesis of fibrosis and cancer, both of which employ similar signaling pathways; hence we hypothesized that Mir-27a could be dysregulated in the blood of individuals affected by SSc and it might be useful in the diagnosis or treatment of this disease.
Blood was collected from 60 SSc patients (30 limited and 30 diffused) diagnosed by rheumatologist according to ACR/AULAR criteria; following RNA isolation and cDNA synthesis; real-time qPCR was performed on the samples using Taq-Man probes and data were analyzed by the ΔΔCT method. Also, potential targets of miR-27a were evaluated using bioinformatics.
It was revealed that miR-27a was significantly down-regulated in SSc patients in comparison to the healthy individuals, but there was no difference in miR-27 expression between limited and diffused SSc patients. Besides, miR-27a was found to target several contributing factors to SSc.
It seems that miR-27a has a protective role in SSc, and its downregulation could result in the disease's onset. Based on bioinformatics analyses, it is speculated that miR-27a likely targets factors contributing to the pathogenesis of SSc, which are elevated upon the downregulation of miR-27a; hence, miR-27a mimics could be considered as potential therapeutic agents for the treatment of SSc in future studies. Since no difference was observed between limited and diffused patient groups, it is unlikely that this microRNA has a role in disease progression. According to ROC analysis of qPCR data, miR-27a could be employed as a valuable diagnostic biomarker for SSc.