Gender-biased thymus involution and the importance of microRNA (miRNAs, miRs) expression in modulating thymus development have been reported in many studies. However, the difference between male and female thymus involution remains unclear. To address this question, researchers from South China Agricultural University investigated the miRNA expression profiles in both untreated 3- and 12-month-old female and male mice thymuses using miRNA microarray service.

The results showed that 7 and 18 miRNAs were defined as the sex- and age-specific miRNAs, respectively. The expression of miR-181c-5p, miR-20b-5p, miR-98b-5p, miR-329-3p, miR-341-5p, and miR-2137 showed significant age-difference in mice thymus by quantitative polymerase chain reaction. High expression levels of miR-2137 were detected in mice thymic epithelial cells and gradually increased during the process of thymus aging.

MiR-27b-3p and miR-378a-3p of the female-biased miRNAs were confirmed as the sex- and estrogen-responsive miRNAs in mice thymus in vivo. Their potential target genes and pathways were identified by online software.

These results suggest that these miRNAs may be potential biomarkers for the study of sex- and age-specific thymus aging and involution.


D. Guo, Y. Ye, J. Qi, X. Tan, Y. Zhang, Y. Ma, Y. Li (2017) Age and sex differences in microRNAs expression during the process of thymus aging Acta Biochimica et Biophysica Sinica doi: 10.1093/abbs/gmx029 [abstract]

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