Nonalcoholic fibrosing steatohepatitis is a uniform process that occurs throughout nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been shown to be involved in the biological processes, but the role and molecular mechanism of miRNAs in NAFLD are not entirely clear. In a recent study, researchers from The Third Hospital of Hebei Medical University observed a significant reduction in the expression of miR-130a-3p in livers of a mouse model with fibrosis induced by a methionine–choline-deficient diet, of NAFLD patients, and in activated hepatic stellate cells (HSCs).

A dual-luciferase activity assay confirmed that transforming growth factor-beta receptors (TGFBRs) 1 and 2 were both the target genes of miR-130a-3p. The hepatic expression of TGFBR1 and TGFBR2 was significantly increased. Moreover, the overexpression of miR-130a-3p in HSCs inhibited HSC activation and proliferation, concomitant with the decreased expression of TGFBR1, TGFBR2, Smad2, Smad3, matrix metalloproteinase-2 (MMP-2), MMP-9, type I collagen (Col-1), and Col-4. In addition, the overexpression of miR-130a-3p was shown to promote HSC apoptosis by inducing the expression of caspase-dependent apoptosis genes. Transfection with si-TGFBR1 and si-TGFBR2 revealed effects on HSC function that were consistent with those of miR-130a-3p. TGFBR1 and TGFBR2 rescued the miR-130a-3p-mediated reductions in the mRNA and protein expression levels of Smad2, Smad3, Col-1, and Col-4.

In conclusion, these findings suggest that miR-130a-3p might play a critical role in negatively regulating HSC activation and proliferation in the progression of nonalcoholic fibrosing steatohepatitis by directly targeting TGFBR1 and TGFBR2 via the TGF-β/SMAD signaling pathway.


Y. Wang, J. Du, X. Niu, N. Fu, R. Wang, Y. Zhang, S. Zhao, D. Sun, Y. Nan  (2017) MiR-130a-3p attenuates activation and induces apoptosis of hepatic stellate cells in nonalcoholic fibrosing steatohepatitis by directly targeting TGFBR1 and TGFBR2 Cell Death and Disease. 8, e2792 doi: 10.1038/cddis.2017.10 [article]

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