• apoptosis;
  • cell growth;
  • decorin;
  • si-RNA;
  • transfection


Background:  Decorin (DCN) is a small leucine-rich proteoglycan that plays an important role in the regulation of intercellular contact, cell migration and proliferation. DCN suppresses cell growth and induces apoptosis in various tumour cells. The aim of this study was to investigate whether overexpression of DCN could induce apoptosis and cell growth arrest in mesangial cells (MsCs) in vitro.

Methods:  PcDNA3.1A-DCN plasmid was transfected into cultured rat MsCs, and positive clones stably expressing DCN (MsC/DCN) were selected. SiRNA was used for blocking DCN expression in MsC/DCN. Apoptosis and cell growth of MsCs were assayed by flow cytometry. Hoechst staining was used for observing apoptotic cells. Expressions of active Caspase-3, epidermal growth factor receptor (EGFR), P21 and transforming growth factor-β (TGF-β1) were analyzed using Western blot.

Results:  Overexpression of DCN in MsCs induced apoptosis and arrested cells in the G0/G1 phase. The protein level of active Caspase-3 was significantly elevated in MsC/DCN (P < 0.01). DCN transfection induced downregulation of EGFR and up-expression of P21. In addition, the expression of TGF-β1 was significantly inhibited. DCN-siRNA transfection remarkably blocked the expression of DCN and reversed the downregulatory effects of DCN on MsC's proliferation.

Conclusion:  Overexpression of DCN could inhibit MsCs proliferation by inducing apoptosis and cell growth arrest in vitro and it also downregulates expression of TGF-β1. These results suggest novel strategies for regulating the proliferation of MsC in glomerular diseases.