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Altered MicroRNA Expression Is Responsible for the Pro-Osteogenic Phenotype of Interstitial Cells in Calcified Human Aortic Valves [Valvular Heart Disease]

BackgroundThe transition of aortic valve interstitial cells (AVICs) to myofibroblastic and osteoblast‐like phenotypes plays a critical role in calcific aortic valve disease progression. Several microRNAs (miRs) are implicated in stem cell differentiation into osteoblast. We hypothesized that an epigenetic mechanism regulates valvular pro‐osteogenic activity. This study examined miR profile in AVICs of calcified valves and identified miRs responsible for AVIC phenotypic transition.Methods and ResultsAVICs were isolated from normal and diseased valves. The miR microarray analysis revealed 14 upregulated and 12 downregulated miRs in diseased AVICs. Increased miR‐486 and decreased miR‐204 levels were associated with higher levels of myofibroblastic biomarker α‐smooth muscle actin and osteoblastic biomarkers runt‐related transcription factor 2 (Runx2) and osterix (Osx). Cotransfection of miR‐486 antagomir and miR‐204 mimic in diseased AVICs reduced their ability to express Runx2 and Osx. The miR‐486 mimic upregulated α‐smooth muscle actin expression in normal AVICs through the protein kinase B pathway and moderately elevated Runx2 and Osx levels. Knockdown of α‐smooth muscle actin attenuated Runx2 and Osx expression induced by miR‐486. The miR‐486 mimic and miR‐204 antagomir synergistically promoted Runx2 and Osx expression and calcium deposition in normal AVICs and normal aortic valve tissue.ConclusionsIn AVICs of calcified valves, increased levels of miR‐486 induce myofibroblastic transition to upregulate Runx2 and Osx expression and synergize with miR‐204 deficiency to elevate cellular and valvular pro‐osteogenic activity. These novel findings indicate that modulation of the epigenetic mechanism underlying valvular pro‐osteogenic activity has therapeutic potential for prevention of calcific aortic valve disease progression.

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