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Circ Res. 2014 Jan 3;114(1):67-78. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.114.301633. Epub 2013 Oct 11.

MicroRNA-124 controls the proliferative, migratory, and inflammatory phenotype of pulmonary vascular fibroblasts.

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From the Department of Pediatrics (D.W., H.Z., M.L., M.G.F., A.R.F., B.A.K., M.E.Y., M.A.F.), Department of Medicine (T.A.M., C.C.S.), Department of Medicine and Pediatrics (K.R.S.), Department of Medicine (N.W.M.), Department of Lung Development and Remodeling (S.S.P., S.V., W.S.), Department of Medicine (H.Z.), University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus, Aurora, CO; University of Cambridge, Cambridge, United Kingdom (N.W.M.); Addenbrooke's & Papworth Hospitals, Cambridge, United Kingdom (N.W.M.); Max-Planck-Institute for Heart and Lung Research; University of Giessen and Marburg Lung Center, Bad Nauheim, Germany (S.S.P., S.V., W.S.); and Shengjing Hospital of China Medical University, Shenyang, China (H.Z.).



Pulmonary hypertensive remodeling is characterized by excessive proliferation, migration, and proinflammatory activation of adventitial fibroblasts. In culture, fibroblasts maintain a similar activated phenotype. The mechanisms responsible for generation/maintenance of this phenotype remain unknown.


We hypothesized that aberrant expression of microRNA-124 (miR-124) regulates this activated fibroblast phenotype and sought to determine the signaling pathways through which miR-124 exerts effects.


We detected significant decreases in miR-124 expression in fibroblasts isolated from calves and humans with severe pulmonary hypertension. Overexpression of miR-124 by mimic transfection significantly attenuated proliferation, migration, and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 expression of hypertensive fibroblasts, whereas anti-miR-124 treatment of control fibroblasts resulted in their increased proliferation, migration, and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 expression. Furthermore, the alternative splicing factor, polypyrimidine tract-binding protein 1, was shown to be a direct target of miR-124 and to be upregulated both in vivo and in vitro in bovine and human pulmonary hypertensive fibroblasts. The effects of miR-124 on fibroblast proliferation were mediated via direct binding to the 3' untranslated region of polypyrimidine tract-binding protein 1 and subsequent regulation of Notch1/phosphatase and tensin homolog/FOXO3/p21Cip1 and p27Kip1 signaling. We showed that miR-124 directly regulates monocyte chemotactic protein-1 expression in pulmonary hypertension/idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension fibroblasts. Furthermore, we demonstrated that miR-124 expression is suppressed by histone deacetylases and that treatment of hypertensive fibroblasts with histone deacetylase inhibitors increased miR-124 expression and decreased proliferation and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 production.


Stable decreases in miR-124 expression contribute to an epigenetically reprogrammed, highly proliferative, migratory, and inflammatory phenotype of hypertensive pulmonary adventitial fibroblasts. Thus, therapies directed at restoring miR-124 function, including histone deacetylase inhibitors, should be investigated.


anoxia; hypertension, pulmonary; migration; neoplasms; proliferation

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