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PLoS One. 2019 Jun 20;14(6):e0218432. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0218432. eCollection 2019.

HDL protects against myocardial ischemia reperfusion injury via miR-34b and miR-337 expression which requires STAT3.

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Department of Medical Specialties-Endocrinology, Diabetology, Hypertension and Nutrition, University of Geneva, Geneva, Switzerland.
First Clinic of Internal Medicine, Department of Internal Medicine, University of Genoa School of Medicine, Genoa, Italy.
IRCCS AOU San Martino-IST, Genoa, Genoa, Italy.
Centre of Excellence for Biomedical Research (CEBR), University of Genoa, Genoa, Italy.
Hatter Institute for Cardiovascular Research in Africa, Department of Medicine, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Cape Town, South Africa.
Division of Laboratory Medicine, Diagnostics Department, Geneva University Hospitals, Geneva, Switzerland.



High density lipoprotein (HDL) protects against myocardial infarction via mechanisms that remain unclear. STAT3 (signal transducer and activator of transcription 3) plays a key role in HDL-induced cardioprotection. In the heart, microRNAs (miRNAs) are involved in ischemia reperfusion injury. We therefore investigated whether the cardioprotective effect of HDL modulates miRNAs as a downstream target of STAT3 activation.


STAT3 cardiomyocyte deficient mice (STAT3-KO) and wildtype littermates (STAT3-WT) were submitted to left coronary ligature and reperfused (IR) with or without injection of HDL. Infarct size (IS) was determined and cardiac miRNA expression was evaluated after reperfusion in sham, IR and IR+HDL hearts by microarray analysis. In vitro, neonatal rat ventricular cardiomyocytes were submitted to hypoxia with or without HDL incubation. Cell viability and miRNA expression were analysed.


In vivo, HDL reduced IS from 40.5±4.3% to 24.4±2.1% (p<0.05) in STAT3-WT mice. HDL failed to protect in STAT3-KO mice. In STAT3-WT mice, both miR-34b and miR-337 were increased in IR compared to sham and IR+HDL groups (p<0.05). These miRNAs were not modulated in STAT3-KO mice. In vitro, incubation with HDL improved cell viability against hypoxia (p<0.05). The expression of miR-34b and miR-337 was increased by hypoxia and reduced by HDL treatment (p<0.05). In cardiomyocytes transfected with miRNA mimics, HDL failed to improve cell viability against hypoxia.


Our study, performed both in vivo and in vitro, delineates a novel cardioprotective signalling pathway activated by HDL, involving STAT3-mediated decrease of miR-34b and miR-337 expression.

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