Endothelium-targeted Deletion of the miR-15a/16-1 Cluster Ameliorates Blood-Brain Barrier Dysfunction in Ischemic Stroke

Sci Signal. 2020 Apr 7;13(626):eaay5686. doi: 10.1126/scisignal.aay5686.


The blood-brain barrier (BBB) maintains a stable brain microenvironment. Breakdown of BBB integrity during cerebral ischemia initiates a devastating cascade of events that eventually leads to neuronal loss. MicroRNAs are small noncoding RNAs that suppress protein expression, and we previously showed that the miR-15a/16-1 cluster is involved in the pathogenesis of ischemic brain injury. Here, we demonstrated that when subjected to experimentally induced stroke, mice with an endothelial cell (EC)-selective deletion of miR-15a/16-1 had smaller brain infarcts, reduced BBB leakage, and decreased infiltration of peripheral immune cells. These mice also showed reduced infiltration of proinflammatory M1-type microglia/macrophage in the peri-infarct area without changes in the number of resolving M2-type cells. Stroke decreases claudin-5 abundance, and we found that EC-selective miR-15a/16-1 deletion enhanced claudin-5 mRNA and protein abundance in ischemic mouse brains. In cultured mouse brain microvascular ECs (mBMECs), the miR-15a/16-1 cluster directly bound to the 3' untranslated region (3'UTR) of Claudin-5, and lentivirus-mediated ablation of miR-15a/16-1 diminished oxygen-glucose deprivation (OGD)-induced down-regulation of claudin-5 mRNA and protein abundance and endothelial barrier dysfunction. These findings suggest that genetic deletion of endothelial miR-15a/16-1 suppresses BBB pathologies after ischemic stroke. Elucidating the molecular mechanisms of miR-15a/16-1-mediated BBB dysfunction may enable the discovery of new therapies for ischemic stroke.