Alcoholism, clinical and experimental research

The Role of miR-212 and iNOS in Alcohol-Induced Intestinal Barrier Dysfunction and Steatohepatitis.

PMID 26207424


Alcoholic liver disease is commonly associated with intestinal barrier dysfunction. Alcohol-induced dysregulation of intestinal tight junction proteins, such as Zonula Occludens-1 (ZO-1), plays an important role in alcohol-induced gut leakiness. However, the mechanism of alcohol-induced disruption of tight junction proteins is not well established. The goal of this study was to elucidate this mechanism by studying the role of microRNA 212 (miR-212) and inducible nitric oxide synthase (iNOS) in alcohol-induced gut leakiness. The permeability of the Caco-2 monolayer was assessed by transepithelial electrical resistance and flux of fluorescein sulfonic acid. miR-212 was measured by real-time polymerase chain reaction. The wild-type, iNOS knockout, and miR-212 knockdown mice were fed with alcohol diet (29% of total calories, 4.5% v/v) for 8 weeks. The LNA-anti-miR-212 was used to inhibit miR-212 expression in mice. The alcohol-induced intestinal permeability, miR-212 expression, and liver injuries in mice were measured. Our in vitro monolayer and in vivo mice studies showed that: (i) alcohol-induced overexpression of the intestinal miR-212 and intestinal hyperpermeability is prevented using miR-212 knockdown techniques; and (ii) iNOS is up-regulated in the intestine by alcohol and that iNOS signaling is required for alcohol-induced miR-212 overexpression, ZO-1 disruption, gut leakiness, and steatohepatitis. These studies thus support a novel miR-212 mechanism for alcohol-induced gut leakiness and a potential target that could be exploited for therapeutic intervention to prevent leaky gut and liver injury in alcoholics.