AimsDysregulation of the bone morphogenetic protein receptor type 2 (BMPR2) is a hallmark feature that has been described in several forms of pulmonary hypertension. We recently identified the microRNA miR-20a within a highly conserved pathway as a regulator of the expression of BMPR2. To address the pathophysiological relevance of this pathway in vivo, we employed antagomiR-20a and investigated whether specific inhibition of miR-20a could restore functional levels of BMPR2 and, in turn, might prevent pulmonary arterial vascular remodelling.Methods and resultsFor specific inhibition of miR-20a, cholesterol-modified RNA oligonucleotides (antagomiR-20a) were synthesized. The experiments in mice were performed by using the hypoxia-induced mouse model for pulmonary hypertension and animal tissues were analysed for right ventricular hypertrophy and pulmonary arterial vascular remodelling. Treatment with antagomiR-20a enhanced the expression levels of BMPR2 in lung tissues; moreover, antagomiR-20a significantly reduced wall thickness and luminal occlusion of small pulmonary arteries and reduced right ventricular hypertrophy. To assess BMPR2 signalling and proliferation, we performed in vitro experiments with human pulmonary arterial smooth muscle cells (HPASMCs). Transfection of HPASMCs with antagomiR-20a resulted in activation of downstream targets of BMPR2 showing increased activation of Id-1 and Id-2. Proliferation of HPASMCs was found to be reduced upon transfection with antagomiR-20a.ConclusionThis is the first report showing that miR-20a can be specifically targeted in an in vivo model for pulmonary hypertension. Our data emphasize that treatment with antagomiR-20a restores functional levels of BMPR2 in pulmonary arteries and prevents the development of vascular remodelling.