1. Department of Infectious Diseases, The Affiliated Hospital of Qingdao University, Qingdao 266003, P.R. China
2. Department of Liver Center, The Affiliated Hospital of Qingdao University, Qingdao 266003, P.R. China
M1-polarized macrophages are involved in chronic inflammatory diseases, including nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). However, the mechanisms responsible for the activation of macrophages in NAFLD have not been fully elucidated. This study aimed at investigating the physiological mechanisms by which extracellular vesicles (EVs)-encapsulated microRNA-9-5p (miR-9-5p) derived from lipotoxic hepatocytes might activate macrophages in NALFD. After blood sample and cell collection, EVs were isolated and identified followed by co-culture with macrophages. Next, the palmitic acid-induced cell and high fat diet-induced mouse NALFD models were established to explore the in vitro and in vivo effects of EVs-loaded miR-9-5p on NAFLD as evidenced by inflammatory cell infiltration and inflammatory reactions in macrophages. Additionally, the targeting relationship between miR-9-5p and transglutaminase 2 (TGM2) was identified using dual-luciferase reporter gene assay. miR-9-5p was upregulated in the NAFLD-EVs, which promoted M1 polarization of THP-1 macrophages. Furthermore, miR-9-5p could target TGM2 to inhibit its expression. Downregulated miR-9-5p in NAFLD-EVs alleviated macrophage inflammation and M1 polarization as evidenced by reduced levels of macrophage inflammatory factors, positive rates of CD86+ CD11b+, and levels of macrophage surface markers in vitro. Moreover, the effect of silencing of miR-9-5p was replicated in vivo, supported by reductions in TG, TC, AST and ALT levels and attenuated pathological changes. Collectively, lipotoxic hepatocytes-derived EVs-loaded miR-9-5p downregulated the expression of TGM2 and facilitated M1 polarization of macrophages, thereby promoting the progression of NAFLD. This highlights a potential therapeutic target for treating NAFLD.
Keywords: Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, Macrophages, MicroRNA-9-5p, Extracellular vesicles, Lipotoxic hepatocytes, Transglutaminase 2