Stem Cell Res Ther. 2021 12(1):171.(IF:6.832).

Regulation of connective tissue growth factor expression by miR-133b for the treatment of renal interstitial fibrosis in aged mice with unilateral ureteral obstruction

Dan Cao #  1 Yuan Wang #  1 Yingjie Zhang  1 Yinping Zhang  1 Qi Huang  1 Zhong Yin  1 Guangyan Cai  1 Xiangmei Chen  1 Xuefeng Sun  2 Affiliations

Free PMC article


Introduction: Renal interstitial fibrosis, an important pathological feature of kidney aging and chronic renal failure, is regulated by mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs). We have previously demonstrated low expression of miR-133b in MSC-derived extracellular vesicles (MSC-EVs) in aged rats. However, miR-133b can mediate the inhibition of epithelial-mesenchymal transition (EMT) of renal tubules induced by transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1). We investigated the effect of miR-133b for the treatment of geriatric renal interstitial fibrosis and evaluated its target genes.

Methods: We performed real-time polymerase chain reaction to detect miR-133b expression induced during EMT of HK2 cells by TGF-β1 at different concentrations (0, 6, 8, and 10 ng/mL) and at different time points (0, 24, 48, and 72 h). The target genes of miR-133b were validated using the dual-luciferase reporter assay. In vitro experiments were performed to evaluate mRNA and protein expression of miR-133b targets, E-cadherin, α-smooth muscle actin (SMA), fibronectin, and collagen 3A1 (Col3A1), in HK2 cells transfected with miR-133b under TGF-β1 stimulation. A 24-month-old unilateral ureteral obstruction (UUO) mouse model was established and injected with transfection reagent and miR-133b into the caudal vein. The target gene of miR-133b and other parameters mentioned above such as mRNA and protein expression levels and renal interstitial fibrosis were detected at 7 and 14 days.

Results: miR-133b expression gradually decreased with an increase in TGF-β1 concentration and treatment time, and the miR-133b mimic downregulated connective tissue growth factor (CTGF) expression. The dual-luciferase reporter assay confirmed CTGF as a direct target of miR-133b. Transfection of the miR-133b mimic inhibited TGF-β1-induced EMT of HK2 cells; this effect was reversed by CTGF overexpression. miRNA-133b expression significantly increased (approximately 70-100 times) in mouse kidney tissues after injection of the miRNA-133b overexpression complex, which significantly alleviated renal interstitial fibrosis in mice with UUO.

Conclusion: miR-133b exerted targeted inhibitory effects on CTGF expression, which consequently reduced TGF-β1-induced EMT of HK2 cells and renal interstitial fibrosis in aged mice with UUO.

Keywords: Aged; Renal interstitial fibrosis; Target gene; miR-133b.