Activation of hepatic stellate cells (HSCs) is a key cause of liver fibrosis. However, the mechanisms leading to the activation of HSCs are not fully understood. In the pathological process, acid-sensing ion channel 1a (ASIC1a) is widely involved in the development of inflammatory diseases, suggesting that ASIC1a may play an important role in liver fibrosis. We found that in an acidic environment, ASIC1a leads to HSC-T6 cell activation. Meanwhile, exosomes produced by activated HSC-T6 cells (HSC-EXOs) can be reabsorbed by quiescent HSC-T6 cells to promote their activation. Exosomes mainly carry miRNAs involved in intercellular information exchange. We performed exosome miRNA whole transcriptome sequencing. The results indicated that the acidic environment could alter the miRNA expression profile in the exosomes of HSC-T6 cells. Further studies revealed that ASIC1a promotes the activation of HSCs by regulating miR-301a-3p targeting B-cell translocation gene 1 (BTG1). In conclusion, our study found that ASIC1a may affect HSC activation through the exosomal miR-301a-3p/BTG1 axis, and inhibiting ASIC1a may be a promising treatment strategy for liver fibrosis.

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