Knockout of microRNA-21 attenuates alcoholic hepatitis through the VHL/NF-B signaling pathway in hepatic stellate cells. Academic Article uri icon


  • microRNA-21 (miRNA) is one of the most abundant miRNAs in chronic liver injuries including alcoholic liver injury. Previous studies have demonstrated that miR-21 plays a role in inflammation in the liver and functions in hepatic stellate cells (HSCs), which reside in the perisinusoidal space between sinusoidal endothelial cells and hepatocytes and regulate sinusoidal circulation. HSCs integrate cytokine-mediated inflammatory responses in the sinusoids and relay them to the liver parenchyma. Here, we showed that the activation of Von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) expression, by miR-21 knockout in vivo and anti-miR-21 or VHL overexpression in vitro, suppressed the production of proinflammatory cytokines, such as interleukin (IL)-6, monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, and IL-1, in human HSCs during alcoholic liver injury. Sequence and functional analyses confirmed that miR-21 directly targeted the 3'-untranslated region of VHL. Immunofluorescence and real-time PCR analysis revealed that miR-21 depletion blocked NF-B activation in human HSCs both in cultured HSCs as well as HSCs isolated from alcohol-related liver disease mice liver by laser capture microdissection. We also showed that conditioned medium from anti-miR-21-transfected HSCs suppressed human monocyte-derived THP-1 cell migration. Taken together, our study indicates that depletion of miR-21 may downregulate cytokine production in HSCs and macrophage chemotaxis during alcoholic liver injury and that the targeting of miR-21 may have therapeutic potential for preventing the progression of alcoholic liver diseases. NEW & NOTEWORTHY This study demonstrates that silencing microRNA-21 can inhibit cytokine production and inflammatory responses in human hepatic stellate cells during alcoholic liver injury and that the targeting of microR-21 in hepatic stellate cells may have therapeutic potential for prevention and treatment of alcoholic liver diseases.

published proceedings

  • Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Wu, N., McDaniel, K., Zhou, T., Ramos-Lorenzo, S., Wu, C., Huang, L. i., ... Meng, F.

citation count

  • 15

complete list of authors

  • Wu, Nan||McDaniel, Kelly||Zhou, Tianhao||Ramos-Lorenzo, Sugeily||Wu, Chaodong||Huang, Li||Chen, Demeng||Annable, Tami||Francis, Heather||Glaser, Shannon||Alpini, Gianfranco||Meng, Fanyin

publication date

  • September 2018