The biological functions and molecular mechanisms of miR-223 action in liver cells and liver diseases remain unclear. We therefore determined the effect and mechanism of action of miR-233 in Fas-induced hepatocyte apoptosis and liver injury. Wild-type (WT) and miR-223 knockout (KO) mice were treated i.p. with 0.5 μg/g body weight anti-Fas antibody Jo2, and the animals were monitored for survival and the extent of liver injury. Although WT mice died 4 to 6 hours after Jo2 injection (n = 6), all of the miR-223 KO mice (n = 6) survived. In comparison to WT mice, the miR-223 KO mice showed resistance to Fas-induced liver injury, as indicated by less tissue damage under histopathological examination, fewer apoptotic hepatocytes under caspase-3 immunostaining, and less elevation of serum transaminases. miR-223 KO livers showed less caspase-3, caspase-8, and caspase-9 activation and less poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase cleavage compared with WT livers (P < 0.05). Furthermore, tail vein injection of miR-223 lentiviral vector to miR-223 KO mice restored Jo2-induced liver injury. Transfection of miR-223 KO hepatocytes with miR-223 mimic enhanced Jo2-induced activation of caspase-3, caspase-8, and caspase-9, whereas transfection of WT hepatocytes with the miR-223 inhibitor attenuated Jo2-induced apoptosis. These findings demonstrate that miR-223 deficiency protects against Fas-induced hepatocyte apoptosis and liver injury. Further in vitro and in vivo data indicate that miR-223 regulates Fas-induced hepatocyte apoptosis and liver injury by targeting the insulin-like growth factor 1 receptor.
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