MicroRNA-139-5p negatively regulates NR2A-containing NMDA receptor in the rat pilocarpine model and patients with temporal lobe epilepsy



Regulation of N-methyl-d-aspartate (NMDA) subunits NR2A and NR2B expression during status epilepticus (SE) remains incompletely understood. Here we explored the role of brain-enriched microRNA (miR)-139-5p in this process.


miRNA microarray was performed to examine changes in miRNA expression in the rat pilocarpine model following NMDA-receptor blockade. The dynamic expression patterns of miR-139-5p, NR2A, and NR2B levels were measured in rats during the three phases of temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) development using quantitative reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) and Western blot. Similar expression methods were applied to hippocampi obtained from patients with TLE and from normal controls. Moreover, miR-139-5p agomir and antagomir were utilized to explore the role of miR-139-5p in determining NMDA-receptor subunit expression patterns.


We identified 18 miRNAs that were significantly altered in the rat pilocarpine model following NMDA-receptor blockade. Of these, miR-139-5p was significantly up-regulated and Grin2A was predicted as its potential putative target. In patients with TLE, miR-139-5p expression was significantly down-regulated, whereas NR2A and NR2B levels were significantly up-regulated. In the rat model of SE, miR-139-5p expression was down-regulated while NR2A was up-regulated in the acute and chronic phases, but not in the latent phase. NR2B expression was up-regulated during the three phases of TLE development. Overexpression of miR-139-5p decreased, whereas depletion of miR-139-5p enhanced the expression levels of NR2A, but not NR2B, induced by pilocarpine treatment. Of interest, NMDA nonselective antagonist and NR2A selective antagonist enhanced miR-139-5p levels suppressed by pilocarpine treatment, whereas the NR2B selective antagonist was ineffective.


These findings elucidate the potential role of miR-139-5p in NMDA-receptor involvement in TLE development and may provide novel therapeutic targets for the future treatment of TLE.