The antifibrotic effects and mechanisms of microRNA-26a action in idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis

Mol Ther. 2014 Jun;22(6):1122-1133. doi: 10.1038/mt.2014.42. Epub 2014 Mar 5.


Idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF) is a chronic, progressive, and high-lethality fibrotic lung disease characterized by excessive fibroblast proliferation, extracellular matrix accumulation, and, ultimately, loss of lung function. Although dysregulation of some microRNAs (miRs) has been shown to play important roles in the pathophysiological processes of IPF, the role of miRs in fibrotic lung diseases is not well understood. In this study, we found downregulation of miR-26a in the lungs of mice with experimental pulmonary fibrosis and in IPF, which resulted in posttranscriptional derepression of connective tissue growth factor (CTGF), and induced collagen production. More importantly, inhibition of miR-26a in the lungs caused pulmonary fibrosis in vivo, whereas overexpression of miR-26a repressed transforming growth factor (TGF)-β1-induced fibrogenesis in MRC-5 cells and attenuated experimental pulmonary fibrosis in mice. Our study showed that miR-26a was downregulated by TGF-β1-mediated phosphorylation of Smad3. Moreover, miR-26a inhibited the nuclear translocation of p-Smad3 through directly targeting Smad4, which determines the nuclear translocation of p-Smad2/Smad3. Taken together, our experiments demonstrated the antifibrotic effects of miR-26a in fibrotic lung diseases and suggested a new strategy for the prevention and treatment of IPF using miR-26a. The current study also uncovered a novel positive feedback loop between miR-26a and p-Smad3, which is involved in pulmonary fibrosis.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Collagen / metabolism
  • Connective Tissue Growth Factor / metabolism
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Humans
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis / genetics
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis / pathology*
  • Idiopathic Pulmonary Fibrosis / physiopathology
  • Lung / metabolism
  • Lung / pathology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Phosphorylation
  • Signal Transduction
  • Smad3 Protein / metabolism*
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1 / metabolism


  • MIRN26A microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • Mirn26 microRNA, mouse
  • Smad3 Protein
  • Transforming Growth Factor beta1
  • Connective Tissue Growth Factor
  • Collagen