Diabetic nephropathy (DN) commonly causes end-stage renal disease (ESRD). Increasing evidence indicates that abnormal miRNA expression is tightly associated with chronic kidney disease (CKD). This work aimed to investigate whether miR-27a can promote the occurrence of renal fibrosis in DN by suppressing the expression of secreted frizzled-related protein 1 (Sfrp1) to activate Wnt/β-catenin signalling. Therefore, we assessed the expression levels of miR-27a, Sfrp1, Wnt signalling components and extracellular matrix (ECM)-related molecules invitro and in vivo. Sfrp1 was significantly downregulated in a high-glucose environment, while miR-27a levels were markedly increased. A luciferase reporter assay confirmed that miR-27a downregulated Sfrp1 by binding to the 3′ untranslated region directly. Further, NRK-52E cells under high-glucose conditions underwent transfection with miR-27a mimic or the corresponding negative control, miR-27a inhibitor or the corresponding negative control, si-Sfrp1, or combined miR-27a inhibitor and si-Sfrp1. Immunoblotting and immunofluorescence were performed to assess the relative expression levels of Wnt/β-catenin signalling and ECM components. The mRNA levels of Sfrp1, miR-27a and ECM-related molecules were also detected by quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR). We found that miR-27a inhibitor inactivated Wnt/β-catenin signalling and reduced ECM deposition. Conversely, Wnt/β-catenin signalling was activated, while ECM deposition was increased after transfection with si-Sfrp1. Interestingly, miR-27a inhibitor attenuated the effects of si-Sfrp1. We concluded that miR-27a downregulated Sfrp1 and activated Wnt/β-catenin signalling to promote renal fibrosis.Copyright 2020 The Author(s).