Diabetic foot ulcers (DFUs) are one of the major complications of diabetes. Its molecular pathology remains poorly understood, impeding the development of effective treatments. Although it has been established that multiple cell types, including fibroblasts, keratinocytes, macrophages, and endothelial cells, all contribute to inhibition of healing, less is known regarding contributions of individual cell type. Thus, we generated primary fibroblasts from nonhealing DFUs and evaluated their cellular and molecular properties in comparison to nondiabetic foot fibroblasts (NFFs). Specifically, we analyzed both micro-RNA and mRNA expression profiles of primary DFU fibroblasts. Paired genomic analyses identified a total of 331 reciprocal miRNA-mRNA pairs including 21 miRNAs (FC > 2.0) along with 239 predicted target genes (FC > 1.5) that are significantly and differentially expressed. Of these, we focused on three miRNAs (miR-21-5p, miR-34a-5p, miR-145-5p) that were induced in DFU fibroblasts as most differentially regulated. The involvement of these microRNAs in wound healing was investigated by testing the expression of their downstream targets as well as by quantifying cellular behaviors in prospectively collected and generated cell lines from 15 patients (seven DFUF and eight NFF samples). We found large number of downstream targets of miR-21-5p, miR-34a-5p, miR-145-5p to be coordinately regulated in mRNA profiles, which was confirmed by quantitative real-time PCR. Pathway analysis on paired miRNA-mRNA profiles predicted inhibition of cell movement and cell proliferation, as well as activation of cell differentiation and senescence in DFU fibroblasts, which was confirmed by cellular assays. We concluded that induction of miR-21-5p, miR-34a-5p, miR-145-5p in DFU dermal fibroblasts plays an important role in impairing multiple cellular functions, thus contributing to overall inhibition of healing in DFUs.
© 2016 by the Wound Healing Society.