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Exp Ther Med. 2019 Apr;17(4):3108-3116. doi: 10.3892/etm.2019.7323. Epub 2019 Feb 27.

miR-29a/b cluster suppresses high glucose-induced endothelial-mesenchymal transition in human retinal microvascular endothelial cells by targeting Notch2.

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Department of Ophthalmology, The Third Affiliated Hospital of Wenzhou Medical University, Rui'an, Zhejiang 325200, P.R. China.


Several studies have previously reported that endothelial cells contributed to pathological fibrosis in proliferative diabetic retinopathy (PDR) through endothelial-mesenchymal transition (EndMT); however, the precise mechanism of this interaction has not been completely elucidated. The present study investigated the expression of microRNA (miR)-29a/b cluster in human retinal microvascular endothelial cells (HRMECs) and examined its functional role in high glucose (HG)-induced EndMT. HRMECs were exposed to glucose at concentrations of 5, 15, 30 and 50 mM for 7 days and reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction, western blotting and immunofluorescence were conducted to determine the expression of genes associated with miR-29a/b and EndMT. A luciferase reporter gene assay was also performed to confirm the association between miR-29a/b and neurogenic locus notch homolog protein 2 (Notch2). The expression levels of miR-29a/b, and endothelial markers vascular endothelial cadherin and cluster of differentiation 31 were decreased, whereas the expression levels of Notch2 and mesenchymal markers, including α-smooth muscle actin, fibroblast-specific protein 1 (also named S100 calcium binding protein A4, S100A4), fibronectin and SNAI1 were increased in HRMECs under HG (30 nM) conditions. In addition, Notch2 was identified as a target of miR-29a and miR-29b. Overexpression of miR-29a/b downregulated the expression of Notch2 and subsequently suppressed HG-induced EndMT. Taken together, the results of the present study revealed that the miR-29/Notch2 signaling pathway may participate in the regulation of HG-induced EndMT, and may serve as a potential molecular target during fibrosis in PDR.


diabetic retinopathy; endothelial-mesenchymal transition; microRNA 29a/b; neurogenic locus notch homolog protein 2

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