Background: Dysregulation of miRNAs has been described in tissue and serum from patients with acute and chronic liver diseases. However, only little information on the role of miR-223 in the pathophysiology of acute liver failure (ALF) and liver cirrhosis is available.
Methods: We analysed cell and tissue specific expression levels as well as serum concentrations of miR-223 in mouse models of acute (hepatic ischaemia and reperfusion, single CCl4 injection) and chronic (repetitive CCl4 injection, bile duct ligation (BDL)) liver diseases. Results were validated in patients and correlated with clinical data. The specific hepatic role of miR-223 was analysed by using miR-223−/− mice in these models.
Results: miR-223 expression was significantly dysregulated in livers from mice after induction of acute liver injury and liver fibrosis as well as in liver samples from patients with ALF or liver cirrhosis. In acute and chronic models, hepatic miR-223 up-regulation was restricted to hepatocytes and correlated with degree of liver injury and hepatic cell death. Moreover, elevated miR-223 expression was reflected by significantly higher serum levels of miR-223 during acute liver injury. However, functional in vitro and in vivo experiments revealed no differences in the degree of liver cell death and liver fibrosis as miR-223−/− mice behaved identical with wild-type (wt) mice in all tested models.
Conclusion: miR-223 represents a promising diagnostic marker in a panel of serum markers of liver injury. Together with previously published data, our results highlight that the role of miR-223 in the pathophysiology of the liver is complex and needs further analysis.