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Reprogramming of miR-181a/DNA methylation patterns contribute to the maternal nicotine exposure-induced fetal programming of cardiac ischemia-sensitive phenotype in postnatal life.


Background: E-cigarette and other novel electronic nicotine delivery systems (ENDS) have recently entered the market at a rapid pace. The community desperately needs answers about the health effects of ENDS. The present study tested the hypothesis that perinatal nicotine exposure (PNE) causes a gender-dependent increase in vulnerability of the heart to ischemia-reperfusion (I/R) injury and cardiac dysfunction in male rat offspring via reprogramming of the miRNA-181a (miR-181a)-mediated signaling pathway and that miR-181a antisense could rescue this phenotype. Methods: Nicotine or saline was administered to pregnant rats via subcutaneous osmotic minipumps from gestational day 4 until postnatal day 10. Cardiac function and molecular biological experiments were conducted in ~3- month-old offspring. Results: PNE enhanced I/R-induced cardiac dysfunction and infarction in adult male but not in female offspring, which was associated with miR-181a over-expression in left ventricle tissues. In addition, PNE enhanced offspring cardiac angiotensin receptor (ATR) expressions via specific CpG hypomethylation of AT1R/AT2R promoter. Furthermore, PNE attenuated cardiac lncRNA H19 levels, but up-regulated cardiac TGF-β/Smads family proteins and consequently up-regulated autophagy-related protein (Atg-5, beclin-1, LC3 II, p62) expression in the male offspring. Of importance, treatment with miR-181a antisense eliminated the PNE's effect on miR-181a expression/H19 levels and reversed PNE-mediated I/R-induced cardiac infarction and dysfunction in male offspring. Furthermore, miR-181a antisense also attenuated the effect of PNE on AT1R/AT2R/TGF-β/Smads/autophagy-related biomarkers in the male offspring. Conclusion: Our data suggest that PNE could induce a reprogramming of cardiac miR-181a expression/DNA methylation pattern, which epigenetically modulates ATR/TGF-β/autophagy signaling pathways, leading to gender-dependent development of ischemia-sensitive phenotype in postnatal life. Furthermore, miR-181a could severe as a potential therapeutic target for rescuing this phenotype.

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