Integrative microRNA profiling in alcoholic hepatitis reveals a role for microRNA-182 in liver injury and inflammation

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MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are well-known regulators of disease pathogenesis and have great potential as biomarkers and therapeutic targets. We aimed at profiling miRNAs in alcoholic hepatitis (AH) and identifying miRNAs potentially involved in liver injury.


MiRNA profiling was performed in liver samples from patients with AH, alcohol liver disease, non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, HCV disease and normal liver tissue. Expression of miRNAs was assessed in liver and serum from patients with AH and animal models. Mimic and decoy miR-182 were used in vitro and in vivo to evaluate miR-182's biological functions.


MiRNA expression profile in liver was highly altered in AH and distinctive from alcohol-induced cirrhotic livers. Moreover, we identified a set of 18 miRNAs predominantly expressed in AH as compared with other chronic liver conditions. Integrative miRNA-mRNA functional analysis revealed the association of AH-altered miRNAs with nuclear receptors, IGF-1 signalling and cholestasis. Interestingly, miR-182 was the most highly expressed miRNA in AH, which correlated with degree of ductular reaction, disease severity and short-term mortality. MiR-182 mimic induced an upregulation of inflammatory mediators in biliary cells. At experimental level, miR-182 was increased in biliary cells in mice fed with 3,5-diethoxycarbonyl-1,4-dihydrocollidine (DDC) diet but not upregulated by alcohol intake or fibrosis. Inhibition of miR-182 in DDC-fed mice reduced liver damage, bile acid accumulation and inflammatory response.


AH is characterised by a deregulated miRNA profile, including miR-182, which is associated with disease severity and liver injury. These results highlight the potential of miRNAs as therapeutic targets and biomarkers in AH.

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