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Analysis of the therapeutic potential of miR-124 and miR-16 in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease

journal contribution
posted on 2024-06-11, 14:30 authored by Ali Mahmoudi, Amin Jalili, Seyed Hamid Aghaee-Bakhtiari, Reza Kazemi Oskuee, Alexandra ButlerAlexandra Butler, Manfredi Rizzo, Amirhossein Sahebkar

Backgrounds: Non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) is a common condition affecting >25 % of the population worldwide. This disorder ranges in severity from simple steatosis (fat accumulation) to severe steatohepatitis (inflammation), fibrosis and, at its end-stage, liver cancer. A number of studies have identified overexpression of several key genes that are critical in the initiation and progression of NAFLD. MiRNAs are potential therapeutic agents that can regulate several genes simultaneously. Therefore, we transfected cell lines with two key miRNAs involved in targeting NAFLD-related genes.

Methods: The suppression effects of the investigated miRNAs (miR-124 and miR-16) and genes (TNF, TLR4, SCD, FASN, SREBF2, and TGFβ-1) from our previous study were investigated by real-time PCR in Huh7 and HepG2 cells treated with oleic acid. Oil red O staining and the 3-(4,5-dimethylthiazol-2-yl)-2,5-diphenyl-2H-tetrazolium bromide (MTT) assay were utilized to assess cell lipid accumulation and cytotoxic effects of the miRNAs, respectively. The pro-oxidant-antioxidant balance (PAB) assay was undertaken for miR-16 and miR-124 after cell transfection.

Results: Following transfection of miRNAs into HepG2, oil red O staining showed miR-124 and miR-16 reduced oleic acid-induced lipid accumulation by 35.2 % and 28.6 % respectively (p < 0.05). In Huh7, miR-124 and miR-16 reduced accumulation by 23.5 % and 31.3 % respectively (p < 0.05) but without impacting anti-oxidant activity. Real-time PCR in HepG2 revealed miR-124 decreased expression of TNF by 0.13-fold, TLR4 by 0.12-fold and SREBF2 by 0.127-fold (p < 0.05). miR-16 decreased TLR4 by 0.66-fold and FASN by 0.3-fold (p < 0.05). In Huh7, miR-124 decreased TNF by 0.12-fold and FASN by 0.09-fold (p < 0.05). miR-16 decreased SCD by 0.28-fold and FASN by 0.64-fold (p < 0.05). MTT assays showed, in HepG2, viability was decreased 24.7 % by miR-124 and decreased 33 % by miR-16 at 72 h (p < 0.05). In Huh7, miR-124 decreased viability 42 % at 48 h and 29.33 % at 72 h (p < 0.05), while miR-16 decreased viability by 32.3 % (p < 0.05).

Conclusion: These results demonstrate the ability of miR-124 and miR-16 to significantly reduce lipid accumulation and expression of key pathogenic genes associated with NAFLD through direct targeting. Though this requires further in vivo investigation.


Mashhad University of Medical Sciences (grant code 990706)



The original article is available at

Published Citation

Mahmoudi A, et al. Analysis of the therapeutic potential of miR-124 and miR-16 in non-alcoholic fatty liver disease. J Diabetes Complications. 2024;38(4):108722.

Publication Date

12 March 2024

PubMed ID



  • RCSI Bahrain


Elsevier BV


  • Accepted Version (Postprint)