The TGF-β/miR-31/CEACAM1-S axis inhibits CD4+CD25+ Treg differentiation in systemic lupus erythematosus

Yanjuan Liu, Caiyan Li, Yang Yang, Tao Li, Yunfei Xu, Wenqin Zhang, Muyuan Li, Yizhi Xiao, Jie Hu, Ke Liu, Quanzhen Li, Ming Gui, Xiaoxia Zuo, Yisha Li, Huali Zhang

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


Defects causing concomitant loss of CD25 expression in regulatory T cells (Tregs) have been identified in systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE). However, the cause of this deficiency is not fully understood. Carcinoembryonic antigen related cell adhesion molecule 1 (CEACAM1), an immune co-receptor, contributes to general T-cell function and activation. Our previous study revealed that CEACAM1 expression was upregulated in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) from patients with SLE. However, its role remains unclear. Herein, we confirmed CEACAM1, especially CEACAM1-S, was upregulated in PBMCs from patients with SLE. CEACAM1-S over-expression inhibits CD4+CD25+ Treg differentiation, whereas knockdown of CEACAM1 had the opposite effect in vitro. CEACAM1-S is the target of miR-31. MiR-31 mimic inhibits CEACAM1 expression and enhances CD4+CD25+ Treg differentiation, which was reversed by CEACAM1-S over-expression. Moreover, the circulating TGF-β level was upregulated in SLE patients and TGF-β reduced miR-31 expression via enhancing NF-κB activity. Importantly, CEACAM1 and TGF-β mRNA levels were downregulated, while the miR-31 level and the abundance of CD4+CD25+ Tregs were increased in inactive patients compared with that in patients with active SLE. In addition, CEACAM1-S expression was positively correlated with the Systemic Lupus Erythematosus Disease Activity Index (SLEDAI) score, while CD4+CD25+ Treg abundance and miR-31 level were negatively correlated with the SLEDAI score. In conclusion, reduced activity of miR-31 by TGF-β, via the inhibition of NF-ᴋB, acted to inhibit the differentiation of CD4+CD25+ Tregs by directly targeting CEACAM1-S and to promote autoimmunity.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)697-710
Number of pages14
JournalImmunology and Cell Biology
Issue number7
StatePublished - Aug 2021
Externally publishedYes


  • NF-κB
  • Treg
  • miR-31
  • systemic lupus erythematous

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Immunology
  • Cell Biology


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