MicroRNA-204 regulates vascular smooth muscle cell calcification in vitro and in vivo

Rong-Rong Cui, Shi-Jun Li, Ling-Juan Liu, Lu Yi, Qiu-Hua Liang, Xiao Zhu, Guan-Ying Liu, Yuan Liu, Shan-Shan Wu, Xiao-Bo Liao, Ling-Qing Yuan, Ding-An Mao, Er-Yuan Liao
Cardiovascular Research 2012 November 1, 96 (2): 320-9

AIMS: Medial artery calcification is a common macroangiopathy that initiates from a cell-regulated process similar to osteogenesis. Although the mechanisms governing this process remain unclear, epigenomic regulation by specific microRNAs might play a role in vascular smooth muscle cell (VSMC) calcification. In this study, we aimed to investigate whether miR-204 participates in the regulation of VSMC calcification.

METHODS AND RESULTS: We found that miR-204 was suppressed in mouse aortic VSMCs during β-glycerophosphate-induced calcification, whereas Runx2 protein levels were elevated. Overexpression of miR-204 by transfection of miR-204 mimics decreased Runx2 protein levels and alleviated β-glycerophosphate-induced osteoblastic differentiation of VSMCs, whereas miR-204 inhibition by transfection of miR-204 inhibitors significantly elevated Runx2 protein levels and enhanced osteoblastic differentiation of VSMCs, suggesting the role of miR-204 as an endogenous attenuator of Runx2 in VSMC calcification. Luciferase reporter assays revealed Runx2 as the direct target of miR-204 by overexpression of miR-204 on the wild-type or mutant 3'-UTR sequences of Runx2 in VSMCs. In vivo overexpression of miR-204 by injection of miR-204 agomirs in Kunming mice attenuated vitamin D3-induced medial artery calcification.

CONCLUSION: Our study has shown that down-regulation of miR-204 may contribute to β-glycerophosphate-induced VSMC calcification through regulating Runx2. miR-204 represents an important new regulator of VSMC calcification and a potential therapeutic target in medial artery calcification.

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