Introduction: Allergic rhinitis (AR) is an immune disorder and also a risk factor of asthma. microRNAs (miRNAs) are implicated in autoimmune diseases, including RA. This study investigated effect of miR-181a-5p on regulatory T (Treg)/ T-helper (Th) 17 immune imbalance in AR. Methods: A murine model of AR was established and treated with lentivirus modified miR-181a-5p. The allergic symptoms of mice were examined. The contents of Th17-related cytokines (interferon [IFN]-γ and interleukin [IL]-6), Treg-related cytokine (IL-10), and Treg-specific nuclear transcription factor (Foxp3) in nasal mucosa and lung tissues were determined. The proportion of Treg and Th17 cells was analyzed by flow cytometry. The level of ovalbumin-specific immunoglobulin E in the serum, and the contents of IL-4, IL-5, and IL-13 in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid and IFN-γ, IL-6, and IL-10 in nasal lavage fluid were measured. The targeting relationship between miR-181a-5p and high mobility group box chromosomal protein 1 (HMGB1) was verified. HMGB1 and receptor for advanced glycation end products (RAGE) expression in RA were determined, and the interaction between HMGB1 and RAGE was detected. Results: miR-181a-5p expression was reduced in AR mice. miR-181a-5p overexpression attenuated allergic behaviors, alleviated Treg/Th17 imbalance, and delayed asthma development. HMGB1 and RAGE were elevated in AR mice. miR-181a-5p targeted HMGB1, and HMGB1 bound to RAGE, while miR-181a-5p overexpression reduced the binding between them. Activating HMGB1/RAGE reversed the protective effect of miR-181a-5p overexpression on AR and induced the development of asthma. Conclusion: miR-181a-5p overexpression reduced the binding of HMGB1 and RAGE by inhibiting HMGB1, thus alleviating Treg/Th17 immune imbalance and blocking AR from developing into asthma.

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