Atorvastatin Pretreatment Ameliorates Mesenchymal Stem Cell Migration through miR-146a/CXCR4 Signaling



We previously found that atorvastatin (ATV) enhanced mesenchymal stem cells (MSCs) migration, by a yet unknown mechanism. CXC chemokine receptor 4 (CXCR4) is critical to cell migration and regulated by microRNA-146a (miR-146a). Therefore, this study aimed to assess whether ATV ameliorates MSCs migration through miR-146a/CXCR4 signaling.


Expression of CXCR4 was evaluated by flow cytometry. Expression of miR-146a was examined by reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction. A transwell system was used to assess the migration ability of MSCs. Recruitment of systematically delivered MSCs to the infarcted heart was evaluated in Sprague–Dawley rats with acute myocardial infarction (AMI). Mimics of miR-146a were used in vitro, and miR-146a overexpression lentivirus was used in vivo, to assess the role of miR-146a in the migration ability of MSCs.


The results showed that ATV pretreatment in vitro upregulated CXCR4 and induced MSCs migration. In addition, flow cytometry demonstrated that miR-146a mimics suppressed CXCR4, and ATV pretreatment no longer ameliorated MSCs migration because of decreased CXCR4. In the AMI model, miR-146a-overexpressing MSCs increased infarct size and fibrosis.


The miR-146a/CXCR4 signaling pathway contributes to MSCs migration and homing induced by ATV pretreatment. miR-146a may be a novel therapeutic target for stimulating MSCs migration to the ischemic tissue for improved repair.

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This work was supported by grants from the National Natural Science Foundation of China (81500270 and 81700299).

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Correspondence to Na Li.

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The animal studies were performed after receiving approval from the Care of Experimental Animals Committee of Beijing Chaoyang Hospital (Approval No. 2020-Animal-271).

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Li, N., Guo, XY., Zhou, J. et al. Atorvastatin Pretreatment Ameliorates Mesenchymal Stem Cell Migration through miR-146a/CXCR4 Signaling. Tissue Eng Regen Med (2021).

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  • Acute myocardial infarction
  • Atorvastatin
  • Mesenchymal stem cells
  • Cell migration
  • MicroRNA-146a