Background: Cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury (CIRI) can cause brain tissue inflammation, neuronal degeneration, and apoptosis. There is increasing evidence that microRNAs (miRNA) exert neuroprotective effects by regulating the inflammatory process during cerebral ischemia-reperfusion injury. Additionally, it is increasingly acknowledged that neuroinflammation is regulated by Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4). However, it is unclear whether miRNA can exert its neuroprotective effects by regulating TLR4-mediated inflammation.

Methods: The effects of BMSCs over-expressing miR-202-3p on CIRI, angiogenesis in midbrain tissue, and the release of inflammatory factors (IFs) in the serum were measured using in vivo rat models. We also used SH-SY5Y cells to establish an ischemia-reperfusion in vitro cell model. The interaction between miR-202-3p and TLR4 was analyzed by overexpressing miR-202-3p and knocking down TLR4. Knockdown of TLR4 was performed using siRNA.

Results: Overexpression of miR-202-3p in BMSCs could significantly improve brain function and reduce brain damage. Simultaneously, miR-202-3p could significantly promote angiogenesis, increase the expression of vWF and VEGF, and reduce the expression of IFs. When the expression of TLR4 was significantly reduced in SH-SY5Y cells, the expression of IFs increased. Therefore, miRNA-202-3p may interact with TLR4 to modulate inflammation.

Conclusion: Our data indicated that miR-202-3p potentially exerts its neuroprotective effects and protects against CIRI by regulating TLR4-mediated inflammation.