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Original article
A potential role of microvesicle-containing miR-223/142 in lung inflammation
  1. Duo Zhang1,
  2. Heedoo Lee1,
  3. Xiaoyun Wang2,
  4. Michael Groot1,
  5. Lokesh Sharma3,
  6. Charles S Dela Cruz3,
  7. Yang Jin1
  1. 1 Department of Medicine, Boston University Medical Campus, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2 Department of Medicine, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Boston, Massachusetts, USA
  3. 3 Department of Internal Medicine, Yale University School of Medicine, New Haven, Connecticut, USA
  1. Correspondence to Dr Yang Jin, Department of Medicine, Boston University Medical Campus, Boston, MA 02215, USA; yjin1{at}


Background Uncontrolled lung inflammation is one of the prominent features in the pathogenesis of lung infection- associated acute lung injury (ALI). Microvesicles (MVs) are extracellular nanovesicles that are generated via direct membrane budding.

Methods Bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (BALF) samples were collected from mice with or without intratracheal lipopolysaccharide (LPS) instillation. BALF MVs were characterised and MV-containing microRNA (miRNA) profiles were assessed and confirmed. Secretion and function of MV-containing miR-223/142 (MV-miR-223/142) were analysed in vivo.

Results In BALF, MVs are mainly derived from macrophages in response to LPS. After intratracheal instillation (i.t.) of LPS or Klebsiella pneumoniae, MV-containing miR-223/142 are dramatically induced in both BALF and serum. Mechanistically, miRNA 3′ end uridylation mediates the packing of miR-223/142 into MVs. To investigate the functional role of MV-miR-223/142, we loaded miR-223/142 mimics into unstimulated MVs and delivered them into the murine lungs via i.t. The miR-223/142 mimics-enriched MVs selectively targeted lung macrophages and suppressed the inflammatory lung responses that were triggered by LPS or K. pneumoniae. Mechanistically, miR-223 and miR-142 synergistically suppress Nlrp3 inflammasome activation in macrophages via inhibition of Nlrp3 and Asc, respectively.

Conclusions In the pathogenesis of lung macrophage-mediated inflammatory responses, MV-miR-223/142 secretion is robustly enhanced and detectable in BALF and serum. Furthermore, restoration of intracellular miR-223/142 via vesicle-mediated delivery suppresses macrophage activation and lung inflammation via inhibition of Nlrp3 inflammasome activation.

  • microvesicle
  • exosome
  • microRNA
  • bacterial infection
  • LPS
  • macrophage
  • lung injury

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  • Contributors DZ, CSDC and YJ designed the research. DZ, HL, LS performed experiments. DZ, HL and XW collected, analysed and interpreted data. DZ, MG and YJ wrote the manuscript.

  • Funding This work was supported by National Institutes of Health (NIH) grants R21 AI121644, R33 AI121644, R01 GM111313, R01 GM127596, Wing Tat Lee award (all to YJ); by NIH grant K99HL141685 (to DZ).

  • Competing interests None declared.

  • Patient consent for publication Not required.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

  • Data availability statement All data relevant to the study are included in the article or uploaded as supplementary information.