MiR-21 promotes calcium oxalate-induced renal tubular cell injury by targeting PPARA.Am J Physiol Renal Physiol. 2020 Aug 01; 319(2):F202-F214.AJ
Kidney stone disease is a crystal concretion formed in the kidneys that has been associated with an increased risk of chronic kidney disease. MicroRNAs are functionally involved in kidney injury. Data mining using a microRNA array database suggested that miR-21 may be associated with calcium oxalate monohydrate (COM)-induced renal tubular cell injury. Here, we confirmed that COM exposure significantly upregulated miR-21 expression, inhibited proliferation, promoted apoptosis, and caused lipid accumulation in an immortalized renal tubular cell line (HK-2). Moreover, inhibition of miR-21 enhanced proliferation and decreased apoptosis and lipid accumulation in HK-2 cells upon COM exposure. In a glyoxylate-induced mouse model of renal calcium oxalate deposition, increased miR-21 expression, lipid accumulation, and kidney injury were also observed. In silico analysis and subsequent experimental validation confirmed the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor (PPAR)-α gene (PPARA) a key gene in fatty acid oxidation, as a direct miR-21 target. Suppression of miR-21 by miRNA antagomiR or activation of PPAR-α by its selective agonist fenofibrate significantly reduced renal lipid accumulation and protected against renal injury in vivo. In addition, miR-21 was significantly increased in urine samples from patients with calcium oxalate renal stones compared with healthy volunteers. In situ hybridization of biopsy samples from patients with nephrocalcinosis revealed that miR-21 was also significantly upregulated compared with normal kidney tissues from patients with renal cell carcinoma who underwent radical nephrectomy. These results suggested that miR-21 promoted calcium oxalate-induced renal tubular cell injury by targeting PPARA, indicating that miR-21 could be a potential therapeutic target and biomarker for nephrolithiasis.