MicroRNA-21a-5p promotes fibrosis in spinal fibroblasts after mechanical trauma

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Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) causes permanent disability to at least 180,000 people per year worldwide. Early regulation of spinal fibroblast proliferation may inhibit fibrotic scar formation, allowing the creation of a favorable environment for neuronal regeneration and thereby enhancing recovery from traumatic SCIs. In this study, we aimed to identify the role of microRNA-21a–5p (miR-21a-5p) in regulating spinal fibroblasts after mechanical trauma and to investigate the dysregulation of miR-21a-5p in the pathological process of spinal SCI. We investigated the differential expression of microRNAs in primary spinal fibroblasts after mechanical trauma and found that the expression of miR-21a-5p was higher in spinal fibroblasts after scratch damage (SD). In addition, mouse spinal fibroblasts were transfected with miR-21a-5p mimics/inhibitor, and the role of miR-21a-5p in spinal fibrogenic activation was analyzed. These experiments demonstrated that miR-21a-5p overexpression promoted fibrogenic activity in spinal fibroblasts after mechanical trauma, as well as enhancing proliferation and attenuating apoptosis in spinal fibroblasts. Finally, the potential role of miR-21a-5p in regulating the Smad signaling pathway was examined. MiR-21a-5p activated the Smad signaling pathway by enhancing Smad2/3 phosphorylation. These results suggest that miR-21a-5p promotes spinal fibrosis after mechanical trauma. Based on these findings, we propose a close relationship between miR-21a-5p and spinal fibrosis, providing a new potential therapeutic target for SCI.

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