Background: Acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) is a severe form of acute lung injury that has a high mortality rate and leads to substantial healthcare costs. MicroRNA-124-3p (miR-124-3p) helps to suppress inflammation during a pulmonary injury. However, its mechanism of action is largely unknown, and its role in ARDS remains to be determined. Methods: Mice and NR8383 cells were exposed to lipopolysaccharides (LPS) to induce ARDS, and their miR-124-3p levels were determined. After a miRNA agomir was administrated to the mice, their pulmonary injuries were evaluated by H&E staining and assays for peripheral inflammatory cytokine levels. The direct interaction between miR-124-3p and p65 was predicted, and then confirmed by a luciferase activity assay. The role played by miRNA-124-3p in regulating p65 expression was further examined by transfection with its agomir, and its role in cell apoptosis was investigated by observing the effects of miRNA overexpression in vitro and in vivo. Results: After exposure to LPS, there was a consistent decrease in miR-124-3p expression in the lungs of mice and in NR8383 cells. After treatment with the miR-124-3p agomir, the degrees of pulmonary injury (e.g., alveolar hemorrhage and interstitial edema), and the increases in IL-1β, IL-6, and TNF-α levels induced by LPS were significantly attenuated. Overexpression of miR-124-3p in NC8383 cells and lung tissues significantly suppressed LPS-induced p65 expression and cell apoptosis. Conclusions: These results suggest that miR-124-3p directly targeted p65, and thereby decreased the levels of inflammation and pulmonary injury in a mouse model of ARDS.

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