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Respir Res. 2014 May 16;15:58. doi: 10.1186/1465-9921-15-58.

Role of non-coding RNAs in maintaining primary airway smooth muscle cells.

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Experimental Studies, National Heart and Lung Institute, Imperial College, London & Royal Brompton NIHR Biomedical Research Unit, Dovehouse Street, London SW3 6LY, UK.



The airway smooth muscle (ASM) cell maintains its own proliferative rate and contributes to the inflammatory response in the airways, effects that are inhibited by corticosteroids, used in the treatment of airways diseases.


We determined the differential expression of mRNAs, microRNAs (miRNAs) and long noncoding RNA species (lncRNAs) in primary ASM cells following treatment with a corticosteroid, dexamethasone, and fetal calf serum (FCS).


mRNA, miRNA and lncRNA expression was measured by microarray and quantitative real-time PCR.


A small number of miRNAs (including miR-150, -371-5p, -718, -940, -1181, -1207-5p, -1915, and -3663-3p) were decreased following exposure to dexamethasone and FCS. The mRNA targets of these miRNAs were increased in expression. The changes in mRNA expression were associated with regulation of ASM actin cytoskeleton. We also observed changes in expression of lncRNAs, including natural antisense, pseudogenes, intronic lncRNAs, and intergenic lncRNAs following dexamethasone and FCS. We confirmed the change in expression of three of these, LINC00882, LINC00883, PVT1, and its transcriptional activator, c-MYC. We propose that four of these lincRNAs (RP11-46A10.4, LINC00883, BCYRN1, and LINC00882) act as miRNA 'sponges' for 4 miRNAs (miR-150, -371-5p, -940, -1207-5p).


This in-vitro model of primary ASM cell phenotype was associated with the regulation of several ncRNAs. Their identification allows for in-vitro functional experimentation to establish causality with the primary ASM phenotype, and in airway diseases such as asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

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