Background and Aims: Primary biliary cholangitis (PBC) is a prototypical organ-specific autoimmune disease that is mediated by autoreactive T-cell attack and destruction of cholangiocytes. Despite the clear role of autoimmunity in PBC, immune-directed therapies have failed to halt PBC, including biologic therapies effective in other autoimmune diseases. MicroRNA (miRNA) dysregulation is implicated in the pathogenesis (PBC). In the dominant-negative TGF-β receptor type II (dnTGFβRII) mouse model of PBC, autoreactive CD8 T cells play a major pathogenic role and demonstrate a striking pattern of miRNA down-regulation. Enoxacin is a small molecule fluoroquinolone that enhances miRNA biogenesis, partly by stabilizing the interaction of transactivation response RNA-binding protein with Argonaute (Ago) 2. Approach and Results: We hypothesized that correcting aberrant T-cell miRNA expression with enoxacin in dnTGFβRII mice could modulate autoreactive T-cell function and prevent PBC. Here, we show that liver-infiltrating dnTGFβRII CD8 T cells have significantly decreased levels of the miRNA biogenesis molecules prolyl 4-hydroxylase subunit alpha 1 (P4HA1) and Ago2 along with significantly increased levels of granzyme B and perforin. Enoxacin treatment significantly up-regulated miRNAs in dnTGFβRII CD8 T cells and effectively treated autoimmune cholangitis in dnTGFβRII mice. Enoxacin treatment directly altered T cells both ex vivo and in vitro, resulting in altered memory subset numbers, decreased proliferation, and decreased interferon-γ production. Enoxacin significantly decreased CD8 T-cell expression of the transcription factor, Runx3, and significantly decreased perforin expression at both the mRNA and protein levels. Conclusions: Enoxacin increases miRNA expression in dnTGFβRII CD8 T cells, reduces CD8 T-cell pathogenicity, and effectively halted progression of autoimmune biliary disease. Targeting the miRNA pathway is a therapeutic approach to autoimmunity that corrects pathological miRNA abnormalities in autoreactive T cells.
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