UBC Faculty Research and Publications

The Role of miRNAs in Extracellular Matrix Repair and Chronic Fibrotic Lung Diseases Usman, Kauna; Hsieh, Aileen; Hackett, Tillie-Louise

Abstract

The lung extracellular matrix (ECM) plays a key role in the normal architecture of the lung, from embryonic lung development to mechanical stability and elastic recoil of the breathing adult lung. The lung ECM can modulate the biophysical environment of cells through ECM stiffness, porosity, topography and insolubility. In a reciprocal interaction, lung ECM dynamics result from the synthesis, degradation and organization of ECM components by the surrounding structural and immune cells. Repeated lung injury and repair can trigger a vicious cycle of aberrant ECM protein deposition, accompanied by elevated ECM stiffness, which has a lasting effect on cell and tissue function. The processes governing the resolution of injury repair are regulated by several pathways; however, in chronic lung diseases such as asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) and idiopathic pulmonary disease (IPF) these processes are compromised, resulting in impaired cell function and ECM remodeling. Current estimates show that more than 60% of the human coding transcripts are regulated by miRNAs. miRNAs are small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expressions and modulate cellular functions. This review is focused on the current knowledge of miRNAs in regulating ECM synthesis, degradation and topography by cells and their dysregulation in asthma, COPD and IPF.

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