01 October 2019
Atherosclerosis (AS) is the leading cause of cardiovascular disease and poses a threat to human health. MicroRNAs (miRNAs/miRs) are a group of endogenous small non-coding RNAs that have been identified to serve important roles in AS. However, the expression and role of miR-133a-3p in AS remains unclear. The aim of the present study was to investigate miR-133a-3p in AS and to determine its underlying mechanism. The level of miR-133a-3p expression in the blood and vascular plaque tissue of patients with AS was detected via reverse transcription-quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR). The role of miR-133a-3p in human vascular smooth muscle cells (hVSMCs) was investigated, following upregulation and downregulation of this miR in hVSMCs. Cell proliferation and apoptosis were determined using a Cell Counting kit-8 assay and flow cytometry, respectively. The results demonstrated the downregulation of miR-133a-3p in the blood and vascular plaque tissue of patients with AS. Matrix metallopeptidase-9 (MMP-9) was revealed to be a direct target gene of miR-133a-3p, which was upregulated in the blood and vascular plaque tissue of patients with AS. Furthermore, MMP-9 was determined to be negatively regulated by miR-133a-3p in hVSMCs. In addition, significant inhibition of hVSMC proliferation and induction of cell apoptosis were observed following MMP-9 downregulation and following transfection with the miR-133a-3p mimic. The effects of the miR-133a-3p mimic on hVSMC proliferation and apoptosis were reversed by MMP-9 over-expression. Overall, the results indicated that miR-133a-3p was downregulated in AS, which results in the inhibition of hVSMC proliferation and the induction of cell apoptosis via MMP-9. miR-133a-3p may therefore be a promising therapeutic target for the treatment of AS.