Toll-like receptor-7 (TLR7) is functionally involved in the pathogenesis of Hunner-type interstitial cystitis (HIC). In addition, maternally expressed gene 3 (MEG3) is implicated in many urethral diseases. In this study, we aimed to verify the hypothesis that exosomal MEG3 in urine can be used as a novel diagnostic biomarker for HIC.

Electron microscopy was utilized to observe the distribution of urinary exosomes between the case group and the control group. Receiver operating characteristic analysis was utilized to compare the diagnostic values of MEG3 and miR-19a-3p. Computational analysis and luciferase assay were conducted to identify the correlation between MEG3 and miR-19a-3p as well as between TLR7 and miR-19a-3p. In addition, real-time polymerase chain reaction and Western blot were performed to establish the signaling pathways implicated in the pathogenesis of HIC.

When age and gender distributions are excluded, urinary exosomes were equally distributed between case and control groups. The area under the curve of MEG3 was larger than that of miR-19a-3p, indicating that MEG3 has a better value in the diagnosis of HIC. In addition, patients with HIC showed elevated MEG3 expression and inhibited miR-19a-3p expression, thus establishing a negative correlation between MEG3 and miR-19a-3p. MEG3 and TLR7 were both identified as targets of miR-19a-3p, establishing a MEG3/miR-19a-3p/TLR7 signaling pathway, in which MEG3 enhances the expression of TLR7 via inhibiting the expression of miR-19a-3p.

MEG3 level was upregulated in patients with HIC. In addition, MEG3 downregulated miR-19a-3p expression while upregulating TLR7 expression. Furthermore, MEG3 contributes to the pathogenesis of HIC. Therefore, exosomal MEG3 in urine can be used as a biomarker for HIC diagnosis.

Journal of cellular biochemistry. 2019 Oct 08 [Epub ahead of print]

Fei Liu, Yuedong Chen, Rongfu Liu, Bin Chen, Chunxiao Liu, Jinchun Xing

Department of Urology, Zhujiang Hospital of Southern Medical University, Guangzhou, Guangdong, China., Department of Urology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Xiamen University, Xiamen, Fujian, China.