In type 1 and type 2 diabetes mellitus, increased cardiac fibrosis, stiffness and associated diastolic dysfunction may be the earliest pathological phenomena in diabetic cardiomyopathy. Endothelial-mesenchymal transition (EndMT) in endothelia cells (ECs) is a critical cellular phenomenon that increases cardiac fibroblasts (CFs) and cardiac fibrosis in diabetic hearts. The purpose of this paper is to explore the molecular mechanism of miR-21 regulating EndMT and cardiac perivascular fibrosis in diabetic cardiomyopathy. In vivo, hyperglycaemia up-regulated the mRNA level of miR-21, aggravated cardiac dysfunction and collagen deposition. The condition was recovered by inhibition of miR-21 following with improving cardiac function and decreasing collagen deposition. miR-21 inhibition decreased cardiac perivascular fibrosis by suppressing EndMT and up-regulating SMAD7 whereas activating p-SMAD2 and p-SMAD3. In vitro, high glucose (HG) up-regulated miR-21 and induced EndMT in ECs, which was decreased by inhibition of miR-21. A highly conserved binding site of NF-κB located in miR-21 5′-UTR was identified. In ECs, SMAD7 is directly regulated by miR-21. In conclusion, the pathway of NF-κB/miR-21/SMAD7 regulated the process of EndMT in T1DM, in diabetic cardiomyopathy, which may be regarded as a potential clinical therapeutic target for cardiac perivascular fibrosis.
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