UMass Chan Medical School Faculty Publications


Alcohol-induced miR-27a regulates differentiation and M2 macrophage polarization of normal human monocytes

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Gastroenterology

Publication Date


Document Type



Digestive System Diseases | Gastroenterology | Hepatology | Immunology and Infectious Disease | Immunopathology


Alcohol abuse is a leading cause of liver disease characterized by liver inflammation, fatty liver, alcoholic hepatitis, or liver cirrhosis. Immunomodulatory effects of alcohol on monocytes and macrophages contribute to alcoholic liver disease. Alcohol use, an independent risk factor for progression of hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection-mediated liver disease, impairs host defense and alters cytokine production and monocyte/macrophage activation. We hypothesized that alcohol and HCV have synergistic effects on the phenotype and function of monocytes. Our data show that acute alcohol binge drinking in healthy volunteers results in increased frequency of CD16(+) and CD68(+) and M2-type (CD206(+), dendritic cell [DC]-SIGN(+)-expressing and IL-10-secreting) circulating CD14(+) monocytes. Expression of HCV-induced CD68 and M2 markers (CD206 and DC-SIGN) in normal monocytes was further enhanced in the presence of alcohol. The levels of microRNA (miR)-27a was significantly upregulated in monocytes cultured in the presence of alcohol or alcohol and HCV as compared with HCV alone. The functional role of miR-27a in macrophage polarization was demonstrated by transfecting monocytes with an miR-27a inhibitor that resulted in reduced alcohol- and HCV- mediated monocyte activation (CD14 and CD68 expression), polarization (CD206 and DC-SIGN expression), and IL-10 secretion. Overexpression of miR-27a in monocytes enhanced IL-10 secretion via activation of the ERK signaling pathway. We found that miR-27a promoted ERK phosphorylation by downregulating the expression of ERK inhibitor sprouty2 in monocytes. Thus, we identified that sprouty2 is a target of miR-27a in human monocytes. In summary, our study demonstrates the regulatory role of miR-27a in alcohol-induced monocyte activation and polarization.

DOI of Published Version



J Immunol. 2015 Apr 1;194(7):3079-87. doi: 10.4049/jimmunol.1402190. Link to article on publisher's site

Related Resources

Link to Article in PubMed

Journal/Book/Conference Title

Journal of immunology (Baltimore, Md. : 1950)

PubMed ID