Involvement of the MiR-181b-5p/HMGB1 Pathway in Ang II-induced Phenotypic Transformation of Smooth Muscle Cells in Hypertension
Feng-Juan Li1, Cheng-Long Zhang1, Xiu-Ju Luo2, Jun Peng3,4,*, Tian-Lun Yang1,*
1Department of Cardiovascular Medicine, Xiangya Hospital, Central South University, Changsha 410008, China. 2Department of Laboratory Medicine, Xiangya School of Medicine, Central South University, Changsha410013, China. 3Department of Pharmacology, Xiangya School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Central South University, Changsha, China. 4Hunan Provincial Key Laboratory of Cardiovascular Research, Xiangya School of Pharmaceutical Sciences, Central South University, Changsha 410078, China
Phenotypic transformation of vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs) contributes to vascular remodeling in hypertension. High mobility group box-1 (HMGB1) has been reported to be involved in several pathogenic processes including VSMC proliferation and migration. The present study was designed to determine the role of HMGB1 in VSMC phenotypic transformation in hypertension. First, we demonstrated that HMGB1 was elevated in a model of Ang II-induced VSMC phenotypic transformation, which showed down-regulation of contractile proteins and up-regulation of synthetic proteins. Knockdown of HMGB1 and losartan could block the phenotypic transformation. Next, we identified three potential miRNAs for upstream regulation of HMGB1 by bioinformatic analysis; only miR-181b-5p was significantly down-regulated in Ang II-treated cells. Co-treating the cells with miR-181b-5p mimics suppressed HMGB1 expression as well as the phenotypic transformation, migration, and proliferation. Furthermore, the luciferase reporter gene assay confirmed the direct interaction between miR-181b-5p and HMGB1. Finally, to extend these cell-based studies to clinical patients, we demonstrated that plasma miR-181b-5p levels were decreased, while Ang II and HMGB1 levels, as well as the intima-media thickness (IMT) were increased in hypertensive patients; these effects were reversed following the administration of angiotensin receptor blockers. Based on these observations, we conclude that the down-regulation of miR-181b-5p leads to the elevation of HMGB1 levels in hypertensive patients, which accounts, at least partially, for VSMCs phenotypic transformation and vascular remodeling. Our findings also highlight that the plasma levels of miR-181b-5p and HMGB1 may serve as novel biomarkers for vascular remodeling in the hypertensive patients.
Feng-Juan Li,Cheng-Long Zhang,Xiu-Ju Luo, et al. Involvement of the MiR-181b-5p/HMGB1 Pathway in Ang II-induced Phenotypic Transformation of Smooth Muscle Cells in Hypertension[J]. Aging and disease,
2019, 10(2): 231-248.
Table 2 Human Primer sequences for quantitative real-time PCR.
Table 3 The miRNA sequences and miRBase accession numbers.
Figure 1. Up-regulation of high-mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) in angiotensin (Ang) II-induced human aortic vascular smooth muscle cell (HAVSMC) phenotype transformation
A-D) mRNA levels of α-smooth muscle actin (α-SMA), smooth muscle 22α (SM22α), osteopontin (OPN), and HMGB1 in HAVSMCs, respectively. E) representative images of western blot analysis for HMGB1, α-SMA, SM22α, OPN, and GAPDH. F-I) Protein levels of α-SMA, SM22α, OPN, and HMGB1, respectively. Arbitrary optical density units of the target proteins were normalized to GAPDH and expressed as fold change. J. Protein levels of HMGB1 in culture medium *P <0.05, **P <0.01 vs. control group; #P <0.05, ##P <0.01 vs. Ang II group. At least three independent experiments were performed for each group.
Figure 2. HMGB1 silencing inhibited Ang II-induced HAVSMC phenotype transformation
A) Representative images of western blot analysis for HMGB1, α-SMA, SM22α, OPN, and GAPDH. B-E) Protein levels of HMGB1, α-SMA, SM22α, and OPN, respectively. Arbitrary optical density units of the target proteins were normalized to GAPDH and expressed as fold change. *P <0.05, **P <0.01 vs. control group; #P <0.05, ##P <0.01 vs. the Ang II group. At least three independent experiments were performed for each group.
A) Representative images of scratch-wound healing assay (100×). B) Representative images of Transwell assay (100×). C) Representative images of Edu assay (100×). D) HAVSMC migration distance in each group. E. The number of migrated HAVSMCs in each group. F) The percentage of Edu-positive cells in each group. G. Cell viability in each group. *P <0.05, **P <0.01 vs. the control group; #P <0.05, ##P <0.01 vs. the Ang II group. At least three independent experiments were performed for each group.
Figure 4. Putative binding sites of miR-181b-5p in the HMGB1 3′-UTR
A and B) The three putative miRNA binding sites in the HMGB1 3′-UTR predicted by target scan analysis. C) Conserved putative target sites of HMGB1 in humans. D) Expression of the putative miRNAs in HAVSMCs. **P <0.01 vs. the control group; ##P <0.01 vs. the Ang II group. At least three independent experiments were performed for each group.
Figure 5. Overexpression miR-181b-5p reversed Ang II-induced HAVSMC phenotype transformation
A. HMGB1 mRNA expression in each group. B. Representative images of western blot analysis for HMGB1, α-SMA, SM22α, OPN, and GAPDH. C. Protein levels of HMGB1 in culture medium. D-G. Protein levels of HMGB1, α-SMA, SM22α, and OPN, respectively. Arbitrary optical density units of the target proteins were normalized to GAPDH and expressed as fold change. *P <0.05, **P <0.01 vs. the control group; #P <0.05, ##P <0.01 vs. the Ang II group. At least three independent experiments were performed for each group.
A) Representative images of scratch-wound healing assay (100×). B) Representative images of Transwell assay (100×). C. Representative images of Edu assay (100×). D) HAVSMC migration distance in each group. E) The number of migrated HAVSMCs in each group. F) The percentage of Edu-positive cells in each group. G) Cell viability in each group. *P <0.05, **P <0.01 vs. the control group; #P <0.05, ##P <0.01 vs. the Ang II group. At least three independent experiments were performed for each group.
Figure 7. Transcriptional effect of the miR-181b-5p mimic on the 3′-UTR of HMGB1 in HAVSMCs
A) The 3′-UTR of wild type (WT) HMGB1 (the potential binding site for miR-181-5p is indicated in bold letters). B) The 3′-UTR of the mutated (MUT) HMGB1 (the MUT miR-181-5p binding site is indicated in bold letters). C) Luciferase activity in HAVSMCs in the presence of the miR-181b-5p mimic. At least three independent experiments were performed for each group.
Figure 8. Correlation between HMGB1plasma levels and blood pressure
A and B) Subject blood pressure. C HMGB1plasma levels. D and E) Correlation between HMGB1 plasma levels of and blood pressure. Control group, n=58; hypertension group, n=51; +ARB treatment group, n=71. **P <0.01 vs. control, ##P <0.01 vs. hypertension.
Male (% of total)
Female (% of total)
Table 4 Baseline characteristics of participants.
Figure 9. Correlation between miR-181b-5p, HMGB1, Ang II, and intima-media thickness (IMT) in hypertensive patients
A) miR-181b-5p plasma levels. B) Ang II plasma levels. C. IMT values, determined by carotid artery ultrasound. D) The correlation between HMGB1 level and miR-181b-5p level. E) The correlation between HMGB1 level and Ang II level. E) The correlation between IMT and Ang II level. F) The correlation between IMT and HMGB1 level. Control group, n=58; Hypertension group, n=51, Hypertension +ARB group, n=71. **P <0.01 vs. control, ##P <0.01 vs. Hypertension.
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