Pulmonary microRNA profiling: implications in upper lobe predominant lung disease

David A. Armstrong, Amanda B. Nymon, Carol S. Ringelberg, Corina Lesseur, Haley F. Hazlett, Louisa Howard, Carmen J. Marsit, Alix Ashare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Background: Numerous pulmonary diseases manifest with upper lobe predominance including cystic fibrosis, smoking-related chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and tuberculosis. Zonal hypoxia, characteristic of these pulmonary maladies, and oxygen stress in general is known to exert profound effects on various important aspects of cell biology. Lung macrophages are major participants in the pulmonary innate immune response and regional differences in macrophage responsiveness to hypoxia may contribute in the development of lung disease. MicroRNAs are ubiquitous regulators of human biology and emerging evidence indicates altered microRNA expression modulates respiratory disease processes. The objective of this study is to gain insight into the epigenetic and cellular mechanisms influencing regional differences in lung disease by investigating effect of hypoxia on regional microRNA expression in the lung. All studies were performed using primary alveolar macrophages (n = 10) or bronchoalveolar lavage fluid (n = 16) isolated from human subjects. MicroRNA was assayed via the NanoString nCounter microRNA assay. Results: Divergent molecular patterns of microRNA expression were observed in alternate lung lobes, specifically noted was disparate expression of miR-93 and miR-4454 in alveolar macrophages along with altered expression of miR-451a and miR-663a in bronchoalveolar lavage fluid. Gene ontology was used to identify potential downstream targets of divergent microRNAs. Targets include cytokines and matrix metalloproteinases, molecules that could have a significant impact on pulmonary inflammation and fibrosis. Conclusions: Our findings show variant regional microRNA expression associated with hypoxia in alveolar macrophages and BAL fluid in the lung—upper vs lower lobe. Future studies should address whether these specific microRNAs may act intracellularly, in a paracrine/endocrine manner to direct the innate immune response or may ultimately be involved in pulmonary host-to-pathogen trans-kingdom cross-talk.

Original languageEnglish
Article number56
JournalClinical Epigenetics
Issue number1
StatePublished - 30 May 2017


  • Alveolar macrophages
  • Bronchoalveolar lavage
  • Epigenetics
  • Exosomes
  • Hypoxia
  • MicroRNA
  • Microvesicles


Dive into the research topics of 'Pulmonary microRNA profiling: implications in upper lobe predominant lung disease'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this