Circulating miRNAs Are Associated with Inflammation Biomarkers in Children with Overweight and Obesity: Results of the I.Family Study.Genes (Basel). 2022 04 01; 13(4)G
Increasing data suggest that overnutrition-induced obesity may trigger an inflammatory process in adipose tissue and upturn in the innate immune system. Numerous players have been involved in governing the inflammatory response, including epigenetics. Among epigenetic players, miRNAs are emerging as crucial regulators of immune cell development, immune responses, autoimmunity, and inflammation. In this study, we aimed at identifying the involvement of candidate miRNAs in relation to inflammation-associated biomarkers in a subsample of European children with overweight and obesity participating in the I.Family study. The study sample included individuals with increased adiposity since this condition contributes to the early occurrence of chronic low-grade inflammation. We focused on the acute-phase reagent C-reactive protein (CRP) as the primary outcome and selected cytokines as plausible biomarkers of inflammation. We found that chronic low-grade CRP elevation shows a highly significant association with miR-26b-3p and hsa-miR-576-5p in boys. Furthermore, the association of CRP with hsa-miR-10b-5p and hsa-miR-31-5p is highly significant in girls. We also observed major sex-related associations of candidate miRNAs with selected cytokines. Except for IL-6, a significant association of hsa-miR-26b-3p and hsa-miR-576-5p with TNF-α, IL1-Ra, IL-8, and IL-15 levels was found exclusively in boys. The findings of this exploratory study suggest sex differences in the association of circulating miRNAs with inflammatory response biomarkers, and indicate a possible role of miRNAs among the candidate epigenetic mechanisms related to the process of low-grade inflammation in childhood obesity.