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Hepatology. 2012 Jul;56(1):300-10. doi: 10.1002/hep.25613. Epub 2012 Jun 18.

Inhibitory effects of microRNA 19b in hepatic stellate cell-mediated fibrogenesis.

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Department of Biology, University of North Carolina at Charlotte, Charlotte, NC 28203, USA.


Hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activation is a pivotal event in initiation and progression of hepatic fibrosis and a major contributor to collagen deposition driven by transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β). MicroRNAs (miRs), small noncoding RNAs modulating messenger RNA (mRNA) and protein expression, have emerged as key regulatory molecules in chronic liver disease. We investigated differentially expressed miRs in quiescent and activated HSCs to identify novel regulators of profibrotic TGF-β signaling. miR microarray analysis was performed on quiescent and activated rat HSCs. Members of the miR-17-92 cluster (19a, 19b, 92a) were significantly down-regulated in activated HSCs. Because miR 19b showed the highest fold-change of the cluster members, activated HSCs were transfected with miR 19b mimic or negative control and TGF-β signaling and HSC activation assessed. miR 19b expression was determined in fibrotic rat and human liver specimens. miR 19b mimic negatively regulated TGF-β signaling components demonstrated by decreased TGF-β receptor II (TGF-βRII) and SMAD3 expression. Computational prediction of miR 19b binding to the 3' untranslated region of TGF-βRII was validated by luciferase reporter assay. Inhibition of TGF-β signaling by miR 19b was confirmed by decreased expression of type I collagen and by blocking TGF-β-induced expression of α1(I) and α2(I) procollagen mRNAs. miR 19b blunted the activated HSC phenotype by morphological assessment and decreased smooth muscle α-actin expression. Additionally, miR 19b expression was markedly diminished in fibrotic rat liver compared with normal liver; similarly, miR 19b expression was markedly down-regulated in fibrotic compared with normal human livers.


miR 19b is a novel regulator of TGF-β signaling in HSCs, suggesting a potential therapeutic approach for hepatic fibrosis.

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