MicroRNAs and immunity: novel players in the regulation of normal immune function and inflammation

Semin Cancer Biol. 2008 Apr;18(2):131-40. doi: 10.1016/j.semcancer.2008.01.005. Epub 2008 Jan 15.


The discovery of microRNAs (miRNAs) is one of the major scientific breakthroughs in recent years and has revolutionized the way we look at gene regulation. Although we are still at a very early stage in understanding their impact on immunity, miRNAs are changing the way we think about the development of the immune system and regulation of immune functions. MiRNAs are implicated in establishing and maintaining the cell fate of immune cells (e.g. miR-181a and miR-223), and they are involved in innate immunity by regulating Toll-like receptor signaling and ensuing cytokine response (e.g. miR-146). Moreover, miRNAs regulate central elements of the adaptive immune response such as antigen presentation (e.g. miR-155) and T cell receptor signaling (miR-181a). Recent evidence showing altered miRNA expression in chronic inflammatory diseases (e.g. miR-203 and miR-146) suggests their involvement in immune-mediated diseases. Furthermore, miRNAs have been implicated in viral immune escape and anti-viral defense (e.g. miR-196). In this review, we will summarize the latest findings about the role of miRNAs in the development of the immune system and regulation of immune functions and inflammation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Antiviral Agents / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • B-Lymphocytes / physiology
  • Cell Differentiation / genetics
  • Granulocytes / metabolism
  • Granulocytes / physiology
  • Hematopoiesis / genetics
  • Humans
  • Immunity / genetics*
  • Immunity / physiology*
  • Inflammation / genetics*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • MicroRNAs / physiology*
  • Models, Biological
  • T-Lymphocytes / metabolism
  • T-Lymphocytes / physiology


  • Antiviral Agents
  • MIRN155 microRNA, human
  • MIRN223 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • Mirn142 microRNA, mouse
  • Mirn150 microRNA, mouse
  • mirn181 microRNA, mouse