Small but smart: MicroRNAs orchestrate atherosclerosis development and progression

Donato Santovito, Virginia Egea, Christian Weber
Biochimica et Biophysica Acta 2016, 1861 (12 Pt B): 2075-2086
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNA able to bind specific sequences on target messenger RNAs (mRNAs) and thereby to post-transcriptionally modulate gene expression. Being expressed in all vertebrate cell types, miRNAs have emerged as key players in a wide array of biological processes, including cell proliferation, differentiation and apoptosis. Over the past decade, knowledge concerning the contribution of miRNAs to human pathology has grown with an astonishing pace. In particular, a major involvement of miRNAs in atherosclerosis as a leading cause of global mortality has been supported by ample evidence from in vitro, in vivo and clinical studies. This review aims to summarize and highlight current concepts of miRNA function in the continuum of atherogenesis ranging from risk factors (i.e. dyslipidemia, diabetes, hypertension), to endothelial dysfunction up to the events leading to plaque rupture. Areas in need for further research and potential perspectives for translational applications will be scrutinized. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: MicroRNAs and lipid/energy metabolism and related diseases edited by Carlos Fernández-Hernando and Yajaira Suárez.

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