Milk: an exosomal microRNA transmitter promoting thymic regulatory T cell maturation preventing the development of atopy?
Journal of Translational Medicine, January 2014
Bodo C Melnik, Swen John, Gerd Schmitz
Epidemiological evidence confirmed that raw cow's milk consumption in the first year of life protects against the development of atopic diseases and increases the number of regulatory T-cells (Tregs). However, milk's atopy-protective mode of action remains elusive.This review supported by translational research proposes that milk-derived microRNAs (miRs) may represent the missing candidates that promote long-term lineage commitment of Tregs downregulating IL-4/Th2-mediated atopic sensitization and effector immune responses. Milk transfers exosomal miRs including the ancient miR-155, which is important for the development of the immune system and controls pivotal target genes involved in the regulation of FoxP3 expression, IL-4 signaling, immunoglobulin class switching to IgE and FcϵRI expression. Boiling of milk abolishes milk's exosomal miR-mediated bioactivity. Infant formula in comparison to human breast- or cow's milk is deficient in bioactive exosomal miRs that may impair FoxP3 expression. The boost of milk-mediated miR may induce pivotal immunoregulatory and epigenetic modifications required for long-term thymic Treg lineage commitment explaining the atopy-protective effect of raw cow's milk consumption.The presented concept offers a new option for the prevention of atopic diseases by the addition of physiological amounts of miR-155-enriched exosomes to infant formula for mothers incapable of breastfeeding.
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