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Regulation of Pancreatic Fibrosis by Acinar Cell-Derived Exosomal miR-130a-3p via Targeting of Stellate Cell PPAR-γ

Authors Wang Q, Wang H, Jing Q, Yang Y, Xue D, Hao C, Zhang W

Received 31 December 2020

Accepted for publication 10 February 2021

Published 24 February 2021 Volume 2021:14 Pages 461—477

DOI https://doi.org/10.2147/JIR.S299298

Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single anonymous peer review

Peer reviewer comments 2

Editor who approved publication: Professor Ning Quan


Qiang Wang,* Hao Wang,* Qingxu Jing, Yang Yang, Dongbo Xue, Chenjun Hao, Weihui Zhang

Department of General Surgery, Laboratory of Hepatosplenic Surgery, Ministry of Education, The First Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University, Harbin, Heilongjiang Province, People’s Republic of China

*These authors contributed equally to this work

Correspondence: Dongbo Xue; Chenjun Hao
Department of General Surgery, The First Affiliated Hospital of Harbin Medical University, Youzheng Street 23, Harbin, 150001, People’s Republic of China
Email xuedongbo@hrbmu.edu.cn; haochenjun1986@163.com

Introduction: As endogenous miRNA carriers, exosomes play a role in the pathophysiological processes of various diseases. However, their functions and regulation mechanisms in pancreatic fibrosis remain unclear.
Methods: In this study, an RNA microarray was used to detect differentially expressed exosomal miR-130a-3p in AR42J cells before and after taurolithocholate (TLC) treatment. mRNA-seq was used to screen differentially expressed genes before and after pancreatic stellate cell (PSC) activation. We used the STRING database to construct a protein-protein interaction (PPI) network for differentially expressed genes, used CytoNCA to analyze the centrality of the PPI network, and identified 10 essential proteins in the biological network. Then, the TargetScan and miRanda databases were used to predict the target genes of miR-130a-3p. The intersections of the target genes and the mRNAs encoding the 10 essential proteins were identified to construct miR-130a-3p/peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma (PPAR-γ) pairs. Fluorescence labeling of exosomes and dynamic tracing showed that exosomes can fuse with the cell membranes of PSCs and transport miR-130a-3p into PSCs. A luciferase reporter gene assay was used to confirm that miR-130a-3p can bind to PPAR-γ to inhibit PPAR-γ expression. In vitro and in vivo functional experiments were performed for gain-of-function studies and loss-of-function studies, respectively.
Results: The studies showed that acinar cell-derived exosomal miR-130a-3p promotes PSC activation and collagen formation through targeting of stellate cellular PPAR-γ. Knockdown of miR-130a-3p significantly improved pancreatic fibrosis. Notably, miR-130a-3p knockdown reduced serum levels of hyaluronic acid (HA) and β-amylase and increased the C-peptide level to protect endocrine and exocrine pancreatic functions and the function of endothelial cells.
Conclusion: This study revealed that the exosomal miR-130a-3p/PPAR-γ axis participates in PSC activation and the mechanism of chronic pancreatitis (CP) with fibrosis, thus providing a potential new target for the treatment of chronic pancreatic fibrosis.

Keywords: pancreatitis, exosomes, miR-130a-3p, pancreatic fibrosis, PPAR-γ

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