Document Type


Subject Area(s)

Animals; Blotting, Western; DNA-Binding Proteins (metabolism); Endothelium (metabolism, physiopathology); Gene Expression Regulation (genetics); Leptin (genetics, metabolism); Liver (metabolism); Mice; Mice, Transgenic; MicroRNAs (metabolism); Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease (complications, genetics, metabolism); Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction; Transcription Factors (metabolism)


Sinusoidal endothelial dysfunction (SED) has been found to be an early event in nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) progression but the molecular mechanisms underlying its causation remains elusive. We hypothesized that adipokine leptin worsens sinusoidal injury by decreasing functionally active nitric oxide synthase 3 (NOS)3 via miR21. Using rodent models of NASH, and transgenic mice lacking leptin and leptin receptor, results showed that hyperleptinemia caused a 4-5 fold upregulation of hepatic miR21 as assessed by qRTPCR. The upregulation of miR21 led to a time-dependent repression of its target protein Grhl3 levels as shown by western blot analyses. NOS3-p/NOS3 ratio which is controlled by Grhl3 was significantly decreased in NASH models. SED markers ICAM-1, VEGFR-2, and E-selectin as assessed by immunofluorescence microscopy were significantly up regulated in the progressive phases of NASH. Lack of leptin or its receptor in vivo, reversed the upregulation of miR21 and restored the levels of Grhl3 and NOS3-p/NOS3 ratio coupled with decreased SED dysfunction markers. Interestingly, leptin supplementation in mice lacking leptin, significantly enhanced miR21 levels, decreased Grhl3 repression and NOS3 phosphorylation. Leptin supplementation in isolated primary endothelial cells, Kupffer cells and stellate cells showed increased mir21 expression in stellate cells while sinusoidal injury was significantly higher in all cell types. Finally miR21 KO mice showed increased NOS3-p/NOS3 ratio and reversed SED markers in the rodent models of NASH. The experimental results described here show a close association of leptin-induced miR21 in aiding sinusoidal injury in NASH.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)


This is an open access article, free of all copyright, and may be freely reproduced, distributed, transmitted, modified, built upon, or otherwise used by anyone for any lawful purpose. The work is made available under the Creative Commons CC0 public domain dedication.

APA Citation

Pourhoseini, S., Seth, R., Das, S., Dattaroy, D., Kadiiska, M., & Xie, G. et al. (2015). Upregulation of miR21 and Repression of Grhl3 by Leptin Mediates Sinusoidal Endothelial Injury in Experimental Nonalcoholic Steatohepatitis. PLOS ONE, 10(2).