Pulmonary MicroRNA changes alter angiogenesis in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and lung cancer

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The pulmonary endothelium is dysfunctional in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), a known risk factor for lung cancer. The pulmonary endothelium is altered in emphysema, which is disproportionately affected by cancers. Gene and microRNA expression differs between COPD and non-COPD lung. We hypothesised that the alteration in microRNA expression in the pulmonary endothelium contributes to its dysfunction. A total of 28 patients undergoing pulmonary resection were recruited and endothelial cells were isolated from healthy lung and tumour. MicroRNA expression was compared between COPD and non-COPD patients. Positive findings were confirmed by quantitative polymerase chain reaction (qPCR). Assays assessing angiogenesis and cellular migration were conducted in Human Umbilical Vein Endothelial Cells (n = 3–4) transfected with microRNA mimics and compared to cells transfected with negative control RNA. Expression of miR-181b-3p, miR-429 and miR-23c (all p < 0.05) was increased in COPD. Over-expression of miR-181b-3p was associated with reduced endothelial sprouting (p < 0.05). miR-429 was overexpressed in lung cancer as well and exhibited a reduction in tubular formation. MicroRNA-driven changes in the pulmonary endothelium thus represent a novel mechanism driving emphysema. These processes warrant further study to determine if they may be therapeutic targets in COPD and lung cancer.
Original languageEnglish
Article number830
Number of pages18
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - 16 Jul 2021


  • COPD
  • angiogenesis
  • lung cancer
  • miRNA
  • microarray
  • pulmonary endothelium


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