Background: Despite the important role that microRNAs (miRNAs) play in immunity and inflammation, their involvement in systemic sclerosis (SSc) remains poorly characterized. miRNA-155 (miR-155) plays a role in pulmonary fibrosis and its expression can be induced with interleukin (IL)-1β. SSc fibroblasts have activated inflammasomes that are integrally involved in mediating the myofibroblast phenotype. In light of this, we investigated whether miR-155 played a role in SSc and if its expression was dependent on inflammasome activation. Methods: miR-155 expression was confirmed in SSc dermal and lung fibroblasts by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (PCR). Wild-type and NLRP3-deficient murine fibroblasts were utilized to explore the regulation of miR-155 during inflammasome activation. miR-155-deficient fibroblasts and retroviral transductions with a miR-155 expression or control vectors were used to understand the contribution of miR-155 in fibrosis. Results: miR-155 was significantly increased and the highest expressing miRNA in SSc lung fibroblasts. Its expression was dependent on inflammasome activation as miR-155 expression could be blocked when inflammasome signaling was inhibited. In the absence of miR-155, inflammasome-mediated collagen synthesis could not be induced but was restored when miR-155 was expressed in miR-155-deficient fibroblasts. Conclusions: miR-155 is upregulated in SSc. These results suggest that the inflammasome promotes the expression of miR-155 and that miR-155 is a critical miRNA that drives fibrosis.

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Keywords Fibrosis, IL-1, MiR-155, NLRP3 inflammasome, Systemic sclerosis
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Journal Arthritis Research & Therapy
Artlett, C.M. (Carol M.), Sassi-Gaha, S. (Sihem), Hope, J.L, Feghali-Bostwick, C.A. (Carol A.), & Katsikis, P.D. (2017). Mir-155 is overexpressed in systemic sclerosis fibroblasts and is required for NLRP3 inflammasome-mediated collagen synthesis during fibrosis. Arthritis Research & Therapy, 19(1). doi:10.1186/s13075-017-1331-z