Targeting a phospho-STAT3-miRNAs pathway improves vesicular hepatic steatosis in an in vitro and in vivo model Journal Articles uri icon

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  • AbstractNon-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a leading cause of chronic liver disease. Although genetic predisposition and epigenetic factors contribute to the development of NAFLD, our understanding of the molecular mechanism involved in the pathogenesis of the disease is still emerging. Here we investigated a possible role of a microRNAs-STAT3 pathway in the induction of hepatic steatosis. Differentiated HepaRG cells treated with the fatty acid sodium oleate (fatty dHepaRG) recapitulated features of liver vesicular steatosis and activated a cell-autonomous inflammatory response, inducing STAT3-Tyrosine-phosphorylation. With a genome-wide approach (Chromatin Immunoprecipitation Sequencing), many phospho-STAT3 binding sites were identified in fatty dHepaRG cells and several STAT3 and/or NAFLD-regulated microRNAs showed increased expression levels, including miR-21. Innovative CARS (Coherent Anti-Stokes Raman Scattering) microscopy revealed that chemical inhibition of STAT3 activity decreased lipid accumulation and deregulated STAT3-responsive microRNAs, including miR-21, in lipid overloaded dHepaRG cells. We were able to show in vivo that reducing phospho-STAT3-miR-21 levels in C57/BL6 mice liver, by long-term treatment with metformin, protected mice from aging-dependent hepatic vesicular steatosis. Our results identified a microRNAs-phosphoSTAT3 pathway involved in the development of hepatic steatosis, which may represent a molecular marker for both diagnosis and therapeutic targeting.


  • Belloni, Laura
  • Di Cocco, Silvia
  • Guerrieri, Francesca
  • Nunn, Abigail DG
  • Piconese, Silvia
  • Salerno, Debora
  • Testoni, Barbara
  • Pulito, Claudio
  • Mori, Federica
  • Pallocca, Matteo
  • Sacconi, Andrea
  • Vivoli, Elisa
  • Marra, Fabio
  • Strano, Sabrina
  • Blandino, Giovanni
  • Levrero, Massimo
  • Pediconi, Natalia

publication date

  • September 11, 2018