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A metabolic stress-inducible miR-34a-HNF4alpha pathway regulates lipid and lipoprotein metabolism.

Xu Y., Zalzala M., Xu J., Li Y., Yin L., Zhang Y.

Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is one of the most common liver diseases, but its underlying mechanism is poorly understood. Here we show that hepatocyte nuclear factor 4α (HNF4α), a liver-enriched nuclear hormone receptor, is markedly inhibited, whereas miR-34a is highly induced in patients with non-alcoholic steatohepatitis, diabetic mice and mice fed a high-fat diet. miR-34a is essential for HNF4α expression and regulates triglyceride accumulation in human and murine hepatocytes. miR-34a inhibits very low-density lipoprotein secretion and promotes liver steatosis and hypolipidemia in an HNF4α-dependent manner. As a result, increased miR-34a or reduced HNF4α expression in the liver attenuates the development of atherosclerosis in Apoe(-/-) or Ldlr(-/-) mice. These data indicate that the miR-34a-HNF4α pathway is activated under common conditions of metabolic stress and may have a role in the pathogenesis of NAFLD and in regulating plasma lipoprotein metabolism. Targeting this pathway may represent a novel approach for the treatment of NAFLD.

Nat Commun 6:7466-7466(2015) [PubMed] [Europe PMC]

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