MicroRNAs in Human Diseases: From Cancer to Cardiovascular Disease

Immune Netw. 2011 Jun;11(3):135-54. doi: 10.4110/in.2011.11.3.135. Epub 2011 Jun 30.


The great discovery of microRNAs (miRNAs) has revolutionized current cell biology and medical science. miRNAs are small conserved non-coding RNA molecules that post-transcriptionally regulate gene expression by targeting the 3' untranslated region of specific messenger RNAs for degradation or translational repression. New members of the miRNA family are being discovered on a daily basis and emerging evidence has demonstrated that miRNAs play a major role in a wide range of developmental process including cell proliferation, cell cycle, cell differentiation, metabolism, apoptosis, developmental timing, neuronal cell fate, neuronal gene expression, brain morphogenesis, muscle differentiation and stem cell division. Moreover, a large number of studies have reported links between alterations of miRNA homeostasis and pathological conditions such as cancer, psychiatric and neurological diseases, cardiovascular disease, and autoimmune disease. Interestingly, in addition, miRNA deficiencies or excesses have been correlated with a number of clinically important diseases ranging from cancer to myocardial infarction. miRNAs can repress the gene translation of hundreds of their targets and are therefore well-positioned to target a multitude of cellular mechanisms. As a consequence of extensive participation in normal functions, it is quite logical to ask the question if abnormalities in miRNAs should have importance in human diseases. Great discoveries and rapid progress in the past few years on miRNAs provide the hope that miRNAs will in the near future have a great potential in the diagnosis and treatment of many diseases. Currently, an explosive literature has focussed on the role of miRNA in human cancer and cardiovascular disease. In this review, I briefly summarize the explosive current studies about involvement of miRNA in various human cancers and cardiovascular disease.

Keywords: Cancer; Heart disease; Human disease; MicroRNAs.