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To assess messenger RNA (mRNA) expression of POU2AF1 and Spi-B and their potential regulatory microRNAs (miRNAs) in natalizumab-treated patients with multiple sclerosis and in therapy-associated progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy (PML).
Expression of POU2AF1/Spi-B was analyzed by using real-time reverse transcription PCR assays on isolated B/CD8+ T lymphocytes and peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from cohorts of untreated and natalizumab-treated patients with and without PML. Longitudinal expression analysis was performed on CD4+, CD8+ T and B cells from 14 patients who interrupted natalizumab therapy for 8 weeks. The miRNA profiling was conducted in PBMCs from 5 untreated and 5 natalizumab-treated patients using low-density arrays followed by validation with single miRNAs assays in untreated and natalizumab-treated patients.
POU2AF1 and Spi-B mRNAs were upregulated in B and CD8+ T cells from natalizumab-treated patients, which was validated in PBMCs from different cohorts of natalizumab-treated patients with and without PML, with a noteworthy higher expression of Spi-B in patients with PML. In contrast, downregulation of POU2AF1/Spi-B expression was measured in B and CD8+ T cells after natalizumab discontinuation. Seventeen differentially expressed miRNAs including miR-10b, a regulator of POU2AF1 mRNA, were identified in long-term natalizumab-treated patients compared with untreated ones.
Upregulation of POU2AF1 and Spi-B, known transactivators of the JC virus, the causative agent for PML, and its association with occurrence of PML in natalizumab-treated patients, corroborates POU2AF1/Spi-B as potential biomarkers for PML risk, which merits further evaluation.
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