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Cell Physiol Biochem. 2017;42(6):2207-2219. doi: 10.1159/000479995. Epub 2017 Aug 16.

Mir-21 Promotes Cardiac Fibrosis After Myocardial Infarction Via Targeting Smad7.

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Department of Cardiology, Bayi Hospital Affiliated Nanjing University Of Chinese Medicine, Nanjing, China.
Department of Orthopedics, the Affiliated Hospital of Nanjing Medical University, Nanjing, China.



Cardiac fibrosis after myocardial infarction (MI) has been identified as an important factor in the deterioration of heart function. Previous studies have demonstrated that miR-21 plays an important role in various pathophysiological processes in the heart. However, the role of miR-21 in fibrosis regulation after MI remains unclear.


To induce cardiac infarction, the left anterior descending coronary artery was permanently ligated of mice. First, we explored the expression of miR-21 in the infarcted zone in mice model of MI via RT-qPCR. Next, we examined the effects of TGF-β1 on miR-21 expression in cardiac fibroblasts (CFs). Then, CFs were infected with miR-21 mimics or miR-21 inhibitors to investigate the effects of miR-21 on the process of CFs activation in vitro. Further, bioinformatics analysis and luciferase reporter assay were performed to identify and validate the target gene of miR-21. At last, in-vivo study was done to confirm MiR-21 regulated myocardial fibrosis after MI in mice.


MiR-21 was up-regulated in the infarcted zone after MI in vivo. TGF-β1 treatment increased miR-21 expression in CFs. Overexpression of miR-21 promoted the effects of TGF-β1-induced activation of CFs, evidenced by increased expression of Col-1, α-SMA and F-actin, whereas inhibition of miR-21 attenuated the process of fibrosis. Bioinformatics, Western blot analysis and luciferase reporter assay demonstrated that Smad7 is a direct target of miR-21. In addition, in-vivo study revealed that MiR-21 regulated myocardial fibrosis after MI in mice.


These findings suggested that miR-21 has a critical role in CF activation and cardiac fibrosis after MI through via TGF-β/Smad7 signaling pathway. Thus, miR-21 promises to be a potential therapy in treatment of cardiac fibrosis after MI.


Cardiac fibrosis; Mir-21; Myocardial infarction; Smad7; TGF-β1

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