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Fibrogenesis Tissue Repair. 2016 May 10;9:7. doi: 10.1186/s13069-016-0044-2. eCollection 2016.

Protective role for miR-9-5p in the fibrogenic transformation of human dermal fibroblasts.

Author information

1
Department of Cell Biology and Immunology, Centro de Biología Molecular "Severo Ochoa", Consejo Superior de Investigaciones Científicas-Universidad Autónoma de Madrid, Nicolás Cabrera 1, 28049 Madrid, Spain.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Excessive accumulation of extracellular matrix (ECM) proteins is the hallmark of fibrotic diseases, including skin fibrosis. This response relies on the activation of dermal fibroblasts that evolve into a pro-fibrogenic phenotype. One of the major players in this process is the cytokine transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β). MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression affecting a wide range of pathophysiological events including fibrogenesis. MicroRNA-9-5p (miR-9-5p) has been shown to exert a protective role in lung and peritoneal fibrosis. This study aimed to evaluate the role of miR-9-5p in skin fibrosis.

RESULTS:

miR-9-5p is up-regulated in TGF-β1-treated human dermal fibroblasts (HDFs). In silico identification of miR-9-5p targets spotted the type II TGF-β receptor (TGFBR2) as a potential TGF-β signaling-related effector for this miRNA. Consistently, over-expression of miR-9-5p in HDFs down-regulated TGFBR2 at both the mRNA and protein levels and reduced the phosphorylation of Smad2 and the translocation of Smad2/3 to the nucleus. In keeping, over-expression of miR-9-5p significantly delayed TGF-β1-dependent transformation of dermal fibroblasts, decreasing the expression of ECM protein collagen, type I, alpha 1 (Col1α1), and fibronectin (FN), the amount of secreted collagen proteins, and the expression of the archetypal myofibroblast marker alpha-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA). By contrast, specific inhibition of miR-9-5p resulted in enhanced presence of fibrosis markers. The expression of miR-9-5p was also detected in the skin and plasma in the mouse model of bleomycin-induced dermal fibrosis. Using lentiviral constructs, we demonstrated that miR-9-5p over-expression was also capable of deterring fibrogenesis in this same model.

CONCLUSIONS:

miR-9-5p significantly prevents fibrogenesis in skin fibrosis. This is mediated by an abrogation of TGF-β-mediated signaling through the down-regulation of TGFBR2 expression in HDFs. These results may pave the way for future diagnostic or therapeutic developments for skin fibrosis based on miR-9-5p.

KEYWORDS:

Myofibroblasts; Skin fibrosis; TGF-β signaling; miR-9-5p

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