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      Urinary miR-21, miR-29, and miR-93: Novel Biomarkers of Fibrosis

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          Background: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play important roles in the progression of renal fibrosis. We studied the urinary levels of miR-21, miR-29 family and miR-93, which are downstream mediators of the transforming growth factor-β<sub>1</sub> (TGF-β<sub>1</sub>), in patients with immunoglobulin A (IgA) nephropathy. Methods: We studied the urinary miRNA levels of 43 IgA nephropathy patients and 13 healthy controls. Results: The IgA nephropathy group had significantly lower urinary miR-29b and miR-29c, but higher miR-93 levels than controls. Proteinuria significantly correlated with urinary levels of miR-29b (r = –0.388, p = 0.003) and miR-29c (r = –0.409, p = 0.002). Glomerular filtration rate significantly correlated with urinary levels of miR-21 (r = 0.338, p = 0.028), miR-29b (r = 0.333, p = 0.031) and miR-29c (r = 0.304, p = 0.050). Urinary miR-93 level significantly correlated with glomerular scarring (r = –0.392, p = 0.010). Urinary miRNA level of SMAD3, but not TGF-β<sub>1</sub>, correlated with urinary miR-21 (r = 0.624, p < 0.001), miR-29b (r = 0.566, p < 0.001), miR-29c (r = 0.619, p < 0.001) and miR-93 (r = 0.332, p = 0.032). Conclusions: Urinary miR-29b and miR-29c levels correlated with proteinuria and renal function, while urinary miR-93 level correlated with glomerular scarring. More importantly, urinary levels of these miRNA targets significantly correlated with urinary SMAD3 level. Our results suggest that these miRNA targets are regulated by the TGF-β<sub>1</sub>/SMAD3 pathway and they may play important roles in the development of progressive renal fibrosis in IgA nephropathy.

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          Most cited references 20

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          MicroRNAs in development and disease.

          MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of posttranscriptional regulators that have recently introduced an additional level of intricacy to our understanding of gene regulation. There are currently over 10,000 miRNAs that have been identified in a range of species including metazoa, mycetozoa, viridiplantae, and viruses, of which 940, to date, are found in humans. It is estimated that more than 60% of human protein-coding genes harbor miRNA target sites in their 3' untranslated region and, thus, are potentially regulated by these molecules in health and disease. This review will first briefly describe the discovery, structure, and mode of function of miRNAs in mammalian cells, before elaborating on their roles and significance during development and pathogenesis in the various mammalian organs, while attempting to reconcile their functions with our existing knowledge of their targets. Finally, we will summarize some of the advances made in utilizing miRNAs in therapeutics.
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            Is Open Access

            Diverse Roles of TGF-β/Smads in Renal Fibrosis and Inflammation

             Hui-Yao Lan (2011)
            TGF-β1 has been long considered as a key mediator in renal fibrosis and induces renal scarring largely by activating its downstream Smad signaling pathway. Interestingly, while mice overexpressing active TGF-β1 develop progressive renal injury, latent TGF-β1 plays a protective role in renal fibrosis and inflammation. Under disease conditions, Smad2 and Smad3 are highly activated, while Smad7 is degraded through the ubiquitin proteasome degradation mechanism. In addition to TGF-β1, many pathogenic mediators such as angiotensin II and advanced glycation end products can also activate the Smad pathway via both TGF-β-dependent and independent mechanisms. Smads interact with other signaling pathways, such as the MAPK and NF-κB pathways, to positively or negatively regulate renal inflammation and fibrosis. Studies from gene knockout mice demonstrate that TGF-β1 acts by stimulating its downstream Smads to diversely regulate kidney injury. In the context of renal fibrosis and inflammation, Smad3 is pathogenic, while Smad2 and Smad7 are protective. Smad4 exerts its diverse roles by transcriptionally enhancing Smad3-mediated renal fibrosis while inhibiting NF-κB-driven renal inflammation via a Smad7-dependent mechanism. Furthermore, we also demonstrated that TGF-β1 acts by stimulating Smad3 to positively or negatively regulate microRNAs to exert its fibrotic role in kidney disease. In conclusion, TGF-β/Smad signaling is a major pathway leading to kidney disease. Smad3 is a key mediator in renal fibrosis and inflammation, whereas Smad2 and Smad7 are renoprotective. Smad4 exerts its diverse role in promoting renal fibrosis while inhibiting inflammation. Thus, targeting the downstream TGF-β/Smad3 signaling pathway by gene transfer of either Smad7 or Smad3-dependent microRNAs may represent a specific and effective therapeutic strategy for kidney disease.
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              TGF-β/Smad3 signaling promotes renal fibrosis by inhibiting miR-29.

              TGF-β/Smad3 signaling promotes fibrosis, but the development of therapeutic interventions involving this pathway will require the identification and ultimate targeting of downstream fibrosis-specific genes. In this study, using a microRNA microarray and real-time PCR, wild-type mice had reduced expression of miR-29 along with the development of progressive renal fibrosis in obstructive nephropathy. In contrast, Smad3 knockout mice had increased expression of miR-29 along with the absence of renal fibrosis in the same model of obstruction. In cultured fibroblasts and tubular epithelial cells, Smad3 mediated TGF-β(1)-induced downregulation of miR-29 by binding to the promoter of miR-29. Furthermore, miR-29 acted as a downstream inhibitor and therapeutic microRNA for TGF-β/Smad3-mediated fibrosis. In vitro, overexpression of miR-29b inhibited, but knockdown of miR-29 enhanced, TGF-β(1)-induced expression of collagens I and III by renal tubular cells. Ultrasound-mediated gene delivery of miR-29b either before or after established obstructive nephropathy blocked progressive renal fibrosis. In conclusion, miR-29 is a downstream inhibitor of TGF-β/Smad3-mediated fibrosis and may have therapeutic potential for diseases involving fibrosis.

                Author and article information

                Am J Nephrol
                American Journal of Nephrology
                S. Karger AG
                November 2012
                27 October 2012
                : 36
                : 5
                : 412-418
                Departments of aMedicine and Therapeutics and bAnatomical and Cellular Pathology, Prince of Wales Hospital, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, SAR, and cDivision of Nephrology, The First Affiliated Hospital of Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, China
                Author notes
                *Dr. C.-C. Szeto, Department of Medicine and Therapeutics, Prince of Wales Hospital, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Shatin, NT, Hong Kong, SAR (China), E-Mail ccszeto@cuhk.edu.hk
                343452 Am J Nephrol 2012;36:412–418
                © 2012 S. Karger AG, Basel

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                Page count
                Figures: 3, Tables: 2, Pages: 7
                Original Report: Patient-Oriented, Translational Research

                Cardiovascular Medicine, Nephrology

                Glomerulonephritis, Biomarker, Proteinuria


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