lncRNA GAS5 restrains CCl4-induced hepatic fibrosis by targeting miR-23a through the PTEN/PI3K/Akt signaling pathway.Am J Physiol Gastrointest Liver Physiol. 2019 04 01; 316(4):G539-G550.AJ
Hepatic fibrosis is chronic liver damage with many causes that has a relatively high death rate. The current study showed that long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) growth arrest-specific transcript 5 (GAS5), microRNA-23a (miR-23a), and phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) play important roles in the pathological process of hepatic fibrosis but have a relatively unclear regulatory mechanism. This study aimed to investigate the roles of lncRNA GAS5, miR-23a, and PTEN in the pathological process of hepatic fibrosis and hepatic stellate cell (HSC) activation. We used carbon tetrachloride (CCl4) intraperitoneal injections to establish a rat hepatic fibrosis model and exogenous transforming growth factor-β1 to establish an HSC activation model. Quantitative RT-PCR, Western blot, dual-luciferase reporter system, and RNA pull-down assays were used to investigate which microRNAs and lncRNAs participate in the process of hepatic fibrosis and HSC activation. miR-23a expression increased significantly in hepatic fibrosis tissues and activated HSCs. miR-23a interaction with and degradation of PTEN further influenced the downstream signaling pathway phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase B/mammalian target of rapamycin/Snail (PI3K/Akt/mTOR/Snail), causing E-cadherin expression levels to decrease and α-smooth muscle actin and collagen I expression levels to increase. lncRNA GAS5 can be used as a sponge platform for miR-23a to decrease miR-23a expression levels competitively. We revealed the role of the lncRNA GAS5/miR-23a/PTEN/PI3K/Akt/mTOR/Snail signaling pathway in hepatic fibrosis, providing molecular targets for the treatment of hepatic fibrosis. NEW & NOTEWORTHY This is the first study revealing that microRNA-23a (miR-23a) promotes hepatic fibrosis through the phosphatase and tensin homolog/phosphatidylinositol 3-kinase/protein kinase B/mammalian target of rapamycin/Snail signaling pathway, and long noncoding RNA (lncRNA) growth arrest-specific transcript 5 (GAS5) can act as a sponge platform for miR-23a. Therefore, lncRNA GAS5/miR-23a may bring molecular targets for hepatic fibrosis therapy.