miRNAs: roles and clinical applications in vascular disease

Expert Rev Mol Diagn. 2011 Jan;11(1):79-89. doi: 10.1586/erm.10.103.


miRNAs are small, endogenously expressed noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression, mainly at the post-transcriptional level, via degradation or translational inhibition of their target mRNAs. Functionally, an individual miRNA can regulate the expression of multiple target genes. The study of miRNAs is rapidly growing and recent studies have revealed a significant role of miRNAs in vascular biology and disease. Many miRNAs are highly expressed in the vasculature, and their expression is dysregulated in diseased vessels. Several miRNAs have been found to be critical modulators of vascular pathologies, such as atherosclerosis, lipoprotein metabolism, inflammation, arterial remodeling, angiogenesis, smooth muscle cell regeneration, hypertension, apoptosis, neointimal hyperplasia and signal transduction pathways. Thus, miRNAs may serve as novel biomarkers and/or therapeutic targets for vascular disease. This article summarizes the current studies related to the disease correlations and functional roles of miRNAs in the vascular system and discusses the potential applications of miRNAs in vascular disease.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Aging / physiology
  • Apoptosis / physiology
  • Atherosclerosis / genetics
  • Atherosclerosis / pathology
  • Atherosclerosis / therapy
  • Blood Vessels / metabolism
  • Blood Vessels / pathology
  • Blood Vessels / physiopathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / genetics*
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / pathology
  • Cardiovascular Diseases / therapy
  • Constriction, Pathologic / genetics
  • Constriction, Pathologic / therapy
  • Humans
  • Hyperplasia
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / genetics
  • Hypertension, Pulmonary / therapy
  • MicroRNAs / physiology*
  • Molecular Targeted Therapy
  • Neointima / pathology
  • Neovascularization, Pathologic / genetics
  • Neovascularization, Physiologic
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Stroke / genetics
  • Stroke / therapy


  • MicroRNAs