microRNA27a-3p mediates reduction of the Wnt antagonist sFRP-1 in systemic sclerosis

John Henderson, Sarah Wilkinson, Stefan Przyborski, Richard Stratton, Steven O’Reilly*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Citations (Scopus)
9 Downloads (Pure)


Systemic Sclerosis (SSc) is an autoimmune connective tissue disease that leads to skin and lung fibrosis. The Wnt pathway is clearly elevated in SSc and is pro-fibrotic via activation of canonical Wnt signalling. sFRP-1 is a Wnt antagonist that acts as a negative regulator of Wnt signalling. We sought to measure the levels of serum sFRP-1 in early diffuse SSc patients compared to healthy controls and if this is regulated by microRNA27a-3p. Ten early diffuse SSc patients and healthy controls sera were taken and sFRP-1 quantified by ELISA. Skin biopsies were also taken in five SSc patients and controls. Fibroblasts were quantified for microRNA27-3p expression by Taqman qRT-PCR with an internal microRNA to normalize. 3ʹUTR luciferase assays were performed to confirm direct targets of microRNA27a-3p with microRNA overexpression. Fibroblasts were transfected with microRNA27a mimics or scramble controls and using ELISA sFRP-1 was quantified. Furthermore, Collagen, Axin-2, TIMP-1 and MMP-1 were measured. Serum sFRP-1 was significantly reduced in early diffuse SSc patients. We identified microRNA27a-3p-3p as regulating sFRP-1 in dermal fibroblasts. We found significantly elevated microRNA27a-3p in isolated dermal fibroblasts from SSc patients. We confirmed that sFRP-1 is a direct target of microRNA27a-3p through cloning of the 3ʹUTR into a luciferase vector. ECM genes were also upregulated by microRNA27a-3p-3p and the matrix-degrading enzyme MMP-1 was suppressed. Serum sFRP-1 is reduced in diffuse SSc patients and is regulated by microRNA27a-3p and this is a direct regulation. Modulation of microRNA27a-3p levels could mediate fibrosis regression.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)808-817
Number of pages10
Issue number7
Early online date4 Oct 2020
Publication statusPublished - 3 Jul 2021


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