MicroRNA 21a-5p overexpression impacts mediators of extracellular matrix formation in uterine leiomyoma

Reprod Biol Endocrinol. 2018 May 11;16(1):46. doi: 10.1186/s12958-018-0364-8.


Background: MicroRNAs (MiR) may promote fibroid development via altered expression of genes involved in cell proliferation and ECM formation, and evidence supports aberrant expression of MicroRNA (MiR) 21a-5p in fibroids. The purpose of this study was to investigate the functional significance of MiR 21a-5p overexpression in the pathobiology of leiomyomata (fibroids).

Methods: A basic science experimental design using immortalized fibroid and myometrial cell lines derived from patient-matched specimens was used. Stable overexpression of MiR-21a-5p in an immortalized fibroid and patient matched myometrial cell line was achieved through lentiviral vector infection. Main outcome measures were MiR-21-5p overexpression, target gene and protein expression, collagen (COL1A1) production, cell proliferation, cell migration, and cell cycle stages of fibroid and myometrial immortalized cell lines.

Results: MiR-21a-5p was overexpressed to similar levels in fibroid and myometrial cell lines after lentiviral infection. Increased expression of miR-21 resulted in increased gene and protein expression of TGF-β3 in both fibroid and myometrial cells. Changes in expression of the ECM genes Fibronectin, Collagen 1A1, CTGF, Versican and DPT were seen in both fibroid and myometrial cells. Changes were also seen in Matrix Metalloproteinase (MMP) related genes including MMP 2, MMP 9, MMP 11 and Serpine 1 in both fibroid and myometrial cells. MiR-21 upregulation resulted in increased proliferation and migration in fibroid cells compared to myometrial cells.

Conclusions: MiR-21a-5p overexpression results in changes in the expression of ECM mediators in both fibroid and myometrial cells, and increased cell proliferation in fibroid cells. These finding suggest a potential functional role of MiR-21a-5p in the development of uterine fibroids and warrant further investigation.

Keywords: Extracellular matrix; Fibroids; Leiomyoma; TGF-β; miR-21.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Cell Proliferation / genetics
  • Extracellular Matrix / metabolism*
  • Extracellular Matrix / pathology
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Leiomyoma / genetics*
  • Leiomyoma / metabolism
  • Leiomyoma / pathology
  • Matched-Pair Analysis
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Myometrium / metabolism*
  • Myometrium / pathology
  • Uterine Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Uterine Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Uterine Neoplasms / pathology


  • MIRN21 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs