Introduction: The microRNA-326 (miR-326) gene, by targeting ETS Proto-Oncogene 1 (ETS1), regulates the differentiation and interleukin-17A production of T helper 17 (Th17) cells. Celiac disease (CD) is an intestinal autoimmune disorder, in which the cascade of Th17 cells plays an important role in its pathogenicity. The aim of this study was to evaluate the expression changes of miR-326 and its two target genes ETS1 and IL-17A in celiac disease patients under a gluten-free diet (GFD). We expected the expression of miR-326 and IL-17A gene to decrease, and the expression of the ETS1 gene to increase, following the adherence to GFD.
Methods: Peripheral blood samples of 40 CD patients under GFD (for more than 1 year) and 40 healthy individuals were collected. RNA was extracted, cDNA was synthesized and the miR-326, ETS1 and IL-17A gene expressions were evaluated by the quantitative polymerase real-time qPCR method. P-value ˂ 0.05 was considered statistically significant.
Results: Although miR-326 mRNA expression was significantly lower in CD patients (P = 0.001), no significant difference was observed in ETS1 mRNA level between the two groups (P = 0.54), but IL-17A was significantly overexpressed in CD patients (P=0.002). No significant correlation was observed between the expression of the studied genes and the patientsʼ symptoms and Marsh classification.
Conclusion:Adherence to the GFD for one to two years did not have the expected effect on the expression of genes in this panel. The most important finding that contradicted our hypothesis was the observation of high IL-17A levels in CD patients despite dieting, which may be related to the protective effect of this cytokine on intestinal tight junctions, which needs to be confirmed in further studies.