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MicroRNAs are an evolutionarily conserved class of endogenous noncoding RNAs that modulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. Recently, microRNA-23a (miR-23a) has been found to function as a growth-promoting and antiapoptotic factor in hepatocellular carcinoma cells. Our previous study showed that miR-23a was significantly upregulated in gastric adenocarcinoma tissues. In this study, we found that miR-23a promoted the proliferative potential of gastric adenocarcinoma cell line MGC803. We also identified IL6R as a direct target gene for miR-23a using a fluorescent reporter assay. The mRNA and protein levels of IL6R were both inversely correlated with the miR-23a expression level. Our results demonstrate that miR-23a can target IL6R and promote the growth activity of gastric adenocarcinoma cells in vitro. The downregulation of IL6R by miR-23a may explain why the suppression of miR-23a can inhibit gastric cancer cell proliferation.