Extracellular Vesicles in the Forebrain Display Reduced miR-346 and miR-331-3p in a Rat Model of Chronic Temporal Lobe Epilepsy.
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An initial precipitating injury in the brain, such as after status epilepticus (SE), evolves into chronic temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE). We investigated changes in the miRNA composition of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in the forebrain after the establishment of SE-induced chronic TLE. We induced SE in young Fischer 344 rats through graded intraperitoneal injections of kainic acid, which resulted in consistent spontaneous recurrent seizures at ~ 3 months post-SE. We isolated EVs from the entire forebrain of chronically epileptic rats and age-matched nave control animals through an ultracentrifugation method and performed miRNA-sequencing studies to discern changes in the miRNA composition of forebrain-derived EVs in chronic epilepsy. EVs from both nave and epileptic forebrains displayed spherical or cup-shaped morphology, a comparable size range, and CD63 expression but lacked the expression of a deep cellular marker GM130. However, miRNA-sequencing studies suggested downregulation of 3 miRNAs (miR-187-5p, miR-346, and miR-331-3p) and upregulation of 4 miRNAs (miR-490-5p, miR-376b-3p, miR-493-5p, and miR-124-5p) in EVs from epileptic forebrains with fold changes ranging from 1.5 to 2.4 (p < 0.0006; FDR < 0.05). By using geNorm and Normfinder software, we identified miR-487 and miR-221 as the best combination of reference genes for measurement of altered miRNAs found in the epileptic forebrain through qRT-PCR studies. The validation revealed that only miR-346 and miR-331-3p were significantly downregulated in EVs from the epileptic forebrain. The enrichment pathway analysis of these miRNAs showed an overrepresentation of signaling pathways that are linked to molecular mechanisms underlying chronic epilepsy, including GABA-ergic (miR-346 targets) and mTOR (miR-331-3p targets) systems. Thus, the packaging of two miRNAs into EVs in neural cells is considerably altered in chronic epilepsy. Functional studies on these two miRNAs may uncover their role in the pathophysiology and treatment of TLE.