American journal of physiology. Gastrointestinal and liver physiology

Inhibition of miR-21 rescues liver regeneration after partial hepatectomy in ethanol-fed rats.

PMID 27634014


Liver regeneration is a clinically significant tissue repair process that is suppressed by chronic alcohol intake through poorly understood mechanisms. Recently, microRNA-21 (miR-21) has been suggested to serve as a crucial microRNA (miRNA) regulator driving hepatocyte proliferation after partial hepatectomy (PHx) in mice. However, we reported recently that miR-21 is significantly upregulated in ethanol-fed rats 24 h after PHx, despite inhibition of cell proliferation, suggesting a more complex role for this miRNA. Here, we investigate how inhibition of miR-21 in vivo affects the early phase of liver regeneration in ethanol-fed rats. Chronically ethanol-fed rats and pair-fed control animals were treated with AM21, a mixed locked nucleic acid-DNA analog antisense to miR-21 that inhibited miR-21 in vivo to undetectable levels. Liver regeneration after PHx was followed by cell proliferation marker and gene expression analysis, miRNA profiling, and cell signaling pathway analysis. Although liver regeneration was not significantly impaired by AM21 in chow-fed rats, AM21 treatment in ethanol-fed animals completely restored regeneration and enhanced PHx-induced hepatocyte proliferation to levels comparable to those of untreated or chow-fed animals. In addition, a marked deposition of α-smooth muscle actin, a marker of stellate cell activation, which was evident in ethanol-treated animals after PHx, was effectively suppressed by AM21 treatment. Gene expression analysis further indicated that suppression of stellate cell-specific profibrogenic profiles and the Notch signaling contributed to AM21-mediated rescue from deficient hepatocyte proliferation in ethanol-fed animals. Our results indicate that the impact of miR-21 balances proproliferative effects with antiproliferative profibrogenic actions in regulating distinctive regenerative responses in normal vs. disease conditions.