MicroRNAs in Cardiovascular Disease


MicroRNAs are recently discovered group of small noncoding RNAs (ribonucleic acids) which have been demonstrated to repress the expression of protein‐coding genes in multiple biological processes. Rapid expansion of studies has begun to reveal roles for miRNAs in a wide range of biological processes, including cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis as well as in human diseases, such as cancer. miRNAs are expressed in the developing and adult heart, and dysregulated miRNA expression has been correlated with cardiovascular disorders. Genetic studies have identified distinct roles for specific miRNAs during cardiovascular development and cardiomyopathy. In addition, miRNAs have been shown to be necessary for normal development and physiological homeostasis. The focus of this review is to provide an overview of the current state of the molecular mechanisms and processes that miRNAs modulate within the multifaceted processes of cardiovascular development and progression of cardiovascular disease.

Key Concepts:

  • miRNAs are noncoding small RNAs that regulate gene expression posttranscriptionally.

  • miRNAs are abundantly expressed in most organisms.

  • A single miRNA may potentially repress hundreds of target genes.

  • miRNA expression is altered in cardiovascular diseases.

  • miRNAs modulate gene expression during normal cardiovascular development and in pathophysiological conditions.

  • Gain‐ and lost‐of‐function studies indicate that miRNAs are key regulators of cardiovascular system homeostasis in responding to stress.

Keywords: microRNA; gene expression; heart development; myocardium; cardiac remodelling; vascular smooth muscle cell; endothelium; vasculogenesis; angiogenesis; cardiovascular disease


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Neppl, Ronald L, and Wang, Da‐Zhi(Jun 2010) MicroRNAs in Cardiovascular Disease. In: eLS. John Wiley & Sons Ltd, Chichester. http://www.els.net [doi: 10.1002/9780470015902.a0022431]