Adipose tissue-secreted miR-27a promotes liver cancer by targeting FOXO1 in obese individuals

Onco Targets Ther. 2015 Apr 7:8:735-44. doi: 10.2147/OTT.S80945. eCollection 2015.


The current notion that obesity is a major risk factor for the development of and the mortality associated with a subset of liver cancer is well appreciated. However, detailed mechanistic insights underlying this relationship are lacking. Better understanding of the adipose tissue-secreted miRNAs that play a potential role in defining primary liver cancer development and mediating the obesity-cancer communication offers the potential for new insights into tumor growth and interventions to modulate tumor formation and progression. In this study, we clearly demonstrated that miR-27a is more highly upregulated in cancer, plasma, and adipose samples from obese liver cancer cases, and therefore reasoned that miR-27a excreted from adipose tissue leads to liver cancer development. To address this idea, we prepared miR-27a-overexpressing 3T3-L1 adipocytes and cocultured them with HepG2 liver cancer cells. Our results demonstrated that secretory miR-27a promoted liver cancer cell proliferation through the downregulation of the transcription factor FOXO1 and promoted the G1/S cell cycle transition by decreasing the cell cycle inhibitors p21 and p27 and increasing the cell cycle regulator cyclin D1. These findings improve our understanding of the involvement of miR-27a in obesity-liver cancer communication and might provide a novel putative target for obesity-driven primary liver cancer diagnosis and therapy.

Keywords: FOXO1; adipose tissue; miR-27a; obesity; primary liver cancer.