Fasciola hepatica hijacks host macrophage miRNA machinery to modulate early innate immune responses

Publication Type:
Journal Article
Scientific Reports, 2021, 11, (1), pp. 6712
Issue Date:
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Fasciola hepatica, a global worm parasite of humans and their livestock, regulates host innate immune responses within hours of infection. Host macrophages, essential to the first-line defence mechanisms, are quickly restricted in their ability to initiate a classic protective pro-inflammatory immune response. We found that macrophages from infected animals are enriched with parasite-derived micro(mi)RNAs. The most abundant of these miRNAs, fhe-miR-125b, is released by the parasite via exosomes and is homologous to a mammalian miRNA, hsa-miR-125b, that is known to regulate the activation of pro-inflammatory M1 macrophages. We show that the parasite fhe-miR-125b loads onto the mammalian Argonaut protein (Ago-2) within macrophages during infection and, therefore, propose that it mimics host miR-125b to negatively regulate the production of inflammatory cytokines. The hijacking of the miRNA machinery controlling innate cell function could be a fundamental mechanism by which worm parasites disarm the early immune responses of their host to ensure successful infection.
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