Synthesis and deposition of extracellular matrix (ECM) within the glomerulus and interstitium characterizes renal fibrosis, but the mechanisms underlying this process are incompletely understood. The profibrotic cytokine TGF-β1 modulates the expression of certain microRNAs (miRNAs), suggesting that miRNAs may have a role in the pathogenesis of renal fibrosis. Here, we exposed proximal tubular cells, primary mesangial cells, and podocytes to TGF-β1 to examine its effect onmiRNAs and subsequent collagen synthesis. TGF-β1 reduced expression of the miR-29a/b/c/family, which targets collagen gene expression, and increased expression of ECMproteins. In both resting and TGF-β1-treated cells, ectopic expression of miR-29 repressed the expression of collagens I and IV at both the mRNA and protein levels by targeting the 3′untranslated region of these genes. Furthermore, we observed low levels of miR-29 in three models of renal fibrosis representing early and advanced stages of disease. Administration of the Rho-associated kinase inhibitor fasudil prevented renal fibrosis and restored expression of miR-29. Taken together, these data suggest that TGF-β1 inhibits expression of the miR-29 family, thereby promoting expression of ECM components. Pharmacologic modulation of these miRNAs may have therapeutic potential for progressive renal fibrosis.
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