To explore biologic behaviors and disease relevance of microRNAs (miRNAs) in the development of active tuberculosis (ATB), we investigated the expression profile of Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB) purified protein derivative (PPD)-induced miRNAs to determine the specific miRNAs involved in the pathogenesis of ATB. The expression profile of miRNA under PPD challenge was first measured using microarray analysis in peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from ATB patients and healthy controls (HC). The remarkably reactive miRNAs were then validated in a larger cohort by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). The receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was plotted to evaluate the diagnostic value of the determined PPD-responsive miRNAs. The potential targets for those miRNAs were also predicted by computational programs. Fourteen of 866 human miRNAs exhibited at least 1.8-fold difference in the ratio of expression level before and after stimulation with PPD between the ATB and HC groups. The qRT-PCR study validated the findings from microarray-based screening, in which miR-155 exhibited a fold change of 1.4 in the HC group and 3.7 in the ATB group upon PPD stimulation (p < 0.0001); miR-155* exhibited a fold change of 1.9 in the HC and 4.6 in the ATB group (p < 0.005). In ROC plots, the area under the curve was 0.8972 for miR-155 and 0.7945 for miR-155*. The background expression of these 2 microRNAs exhibited no differences between the ATB and HC groups. miR-155 and miR-155* exhibited characteristic expression by TB-specific antigen, suggesting that they can be potential diagnostic markers under the challenge of specific MTB antigens.
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