Exosomal miR-142-3p is increased during cardiac allograft rejection and augments vascular permeability through down-regulation of endothelial RAB11FIP2 expression

Cardiovasc Res. 2017 Apr 1;113(5):440-452. doi: 10.1093/cvr/cvw244.


Aims: Exosome-mediated microRNA transfer is a recently discovered mode of cell-to-cell communication, in which microRNAs act as paracrine molecules, exerting their regulatory effects in recipient cells. T cells and endothelial cells are two main players in the mechanism of acute cellular cardiac rejection. The aim of this study was to investigate the role of exosomal microRNAs in the crosstalk between T cells and endothelial cells and its implications for the molecular mechanisms that drive acute cellular rejection in heart transplantation.

Methods and results: Exosomes isolated from serum samples of heart transplant patients with and without acute cardiac allograft rejection were profiled and showed enrichment of miR-142-3p, miR-92a-3p, miR-339-3p and miR-21-5p. Treatment of endothelial cells with the respected serum exosomes resulted the increased of miR-142-3p level in endothelial cells. Using T cells isolated from healthy donors and activated with either anti-CD3/CD28 antibody or IL-2/PHA, we could show that miR-142-3p is released from activated cells, is contained in exosomes and can be transferred to human vascular endothelial cells in vitro. Transcriptome analysis of endothelial cells treated with activated T cell supernatant with or without exosomes was used to identify mRNA targets of transferred miR-142-3-p. Overexpression of miR-142-3p in endothelial cells resulted in a significant down-regulation of RAB11FIP2, and interaction of miR-142-3p with its predicted target site was confirmed with a reporter assay. Moreover, treatment of endothelial cells with serum exosomes from heart transplant patients with acute cellular rejection resulted in down-regulation of RAB11FIP2 expression and increase in vascular endothelial permeability.

Conclusion: We have identified a novel mechanism whereby miR-142-3p, a microRNA enriched in exosomes during acute cellular rejection, is transferred to endothelial cells and compromises endothelial barrier function via down-regulation of RAB11FIP2. This study sheds new light on the interaction between host immune system and cardiac allograft endothelium during acute cellular rejection.

Keywords: exosome transfer; human T cells; human endothelial cells; microRNA; vascular permeability.

MeSH terms

  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • Acute Disease
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Allografts
  • Binding Sites
  • Capillary Permeability*
  • Carrier Proteins / genetics
  • Carrier Proteins / metabolism*
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Culture Media, Conditioned / metabolism
  • Down-Regulation
  • Exosomes / immunology
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Graft Rejection / blood*
  • Graft Rejection / genetics
  • Graft Rejection / immunology
  • Heart Transplantation / adverse effects*
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / immunology
  • Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Lymphocyte Activation
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • MicroRNAs / blood*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Paracrine Communication
  • Signal Transduction
  • T-Lymphocytes / immunology
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism*
  • Transfection
  • Up-Regulation
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins


  • 3' Untranslated Regions
  • Carrier Proteins
  • Culture Media, Conditioned
  • MIRN142 microRNA, human
  • Membrane Proteins
  • MicroRNAs
  • RAB11FIP2 protein, human
  • rab GTP-Binding Proteins