Dynamic macrophage polarization-specific miRNA patterns reveal increased soluble VEGF receptor 1 by miR-125a-5p inhibition

David W. Melton, Xiu Fen Lei, Jonathan A.L. Gelfond, Paula K. Shireman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

19 Scopus citations


Dynamic, epigenetic mechanisms can regulate macrophage phenotypes following exposure to different stimulating conditions and environments. However, temporal patterns of microRNAs (miRNAs or miRs) across multiple macrophage polarization phenotypes have not been defined. We determined miRNA expression in bone marrow-derived murine macrophages over multiple time points (0.5, 1, 3, 24 h) following exposure to cytokines and/or LPS. We hypothesized that dynamic changes in miRNAs regulate macrophage phenotypes. Changes in macrophage polarization markers were detected as early as 0.5 and as late as 24 h; however, robust responses for most markers occurred within 3 h. In parallel, many polarization-specific miRNAs were also changed by 3 h and expressed divergent patterns between M1 and M2a conditions, with increased expression in M1 (miR-155, 199a-3p, 214-3p, 455-3p, and 125a) or M2a (miR-511 and 449a). Specifically, miR-125a-5p exhibited divergent patterns: increased at 12-24 h in M1 macrophages and decreasing trend in M2a. VEGF in the culture media of macrophages was dependent upon the polarization state, with greatly diminished VEGF in M2a compared with M1 macrophage culture media despite similar VEGF in cell lysates. Inhibition of miR-125a-5p in media-only controls (MO) and M1 macrophages greatly increased expression and secretion of soluble VEGF receptor-1 (sVEGFR1) leading to diminished VEGF in the culture media, partially converting MO and M1 into an M2a phenotype. Thus, the divergent expression patterns of polarization-specific miRNAs led to the identification and demonstrated the regulation of a specific macrophage polarization phenotype, sVEGFR1 by inhibition of miR-125a-5p.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)345-360
Number of pages16
JournalPhysiological Genomics
Issue number5
StatePublished - May 1 2016


  • M1
  • M2a
  • M2c
  • MicroRNAs
  • Temporal
  • VEGF

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Genetics
  • Physiology


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