Downregulation of microRNA expression in the lungs of rats exposed to cigarette smoke

FASEB J. 2009 Mar;23(3):806-12. doi: 10.1096/fj.08-121384. Epub 2008 Oct 24.


Although microRNAs have been investigated extensively in cancer research, little is known regarding their response to noxious agents in apparently healthy tissues. We analyzed the expression of 484 miRNAs in the lungs of rats exposed to environmental cigarette smoke (ECS) for 28 days. ECS down-regulated 126 miRNAs (26.0%) at least 2-fold and 24 miRNAs more than 3-fold. We previously demonstrated that 107 of 4858 genes (2.9%) and 50 of 518 proteins (9.7%) were up-regulated by ECS in the same tissue, which is consistent with the role of microRNAs as negative regulators of gene expression. The most remarkably down-regulated microRNAs belonged to the families of let-7, miR-10, miR-26, miR-30, miR-34, miR-99, miR-122, miR-123, miR-124, miR-125, miR-140, miR-145, miR-146, miR-191, miR-192, miR-219, miR-222, and miR-223, which regulate stress response, apoptosis, proliferation, angiogenesis, and expression of genes. In contrast, miR-294, an inhibitor of transcriptional repressor genes, was up-regulated by ECS. There was a strong parallelism in dysregulation of rodent microRNAs and their human homologues, which are often transcribed from genes localized in fragile sites deleted in lung cancer. Five ECS-down-regulated microRNAs are known to be affected by single nucleotide polymorphisms. Thus, changes in microRNA expression are an early event following exposure to cigarette smoke.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Down-Regulation / drug effects*
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Humans
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung Injury / etiology
  • Lung Injury / metabolism*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Microarray Analysis
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution* / adverse effects


  • MicroRNAs
  • Tobacco Smoke Pollution