MicroRNAs in metabolism and metabolic disorders

Nat Rev Mol Cell Biol. 2012 Mar 22;13(4):239-50. doi: 10.1038/nrm3313.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have recently emerged as key regulators of metabolism. For example, miR-33a and miR-33b have a crucial role in controlling cholesterol and lipid metabolism in concert with their host genes, the sterol-regulatory element-binding protein (SREBP) transcription factors. Other metabolic miRNAs, such as miR-103 and miR-107, regulate insulin and glucose homeostasis, whereas miRNAs such as miR-34a are emerging as key regulators of hepatic lipid homeostasis. The discovery of circulating miRNAs has highlighted their potential as both endocrine signalling molecules and disease markers. Dysregulation of miRNAs may contribute to metabolic abnormalities, suggesting that miRNAs may potentially serve as therapeutic targets for ameliorating cardiometabolic disorders.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Cholesterol / metabolism
  • Endocrine System / metabolism
  • Fatty Liver / genetics
  • Fatty Liver / metabolism
  • Glucose / metabolism
  • Homeostasis
  • Humans
  • Insulin / metabolism
  • Lipid Metabolism
  • Metabolic Diseases / genetics*
  • Metabolic Diseases / metabolism*
  • Metabolic Syndrome / genetics
  • Metabolic Syndrome / metabolism
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Non-alcoholic Fatty Liver Disease
  • Obesity / genetics
  • Obesity / metabolism
  • Oligoribonucleotides, Antisense / pharmacology
  • Signal Transduction
  • Sterol Regulatory Element Binding Proteins / genetics
  • Sterol Regulatory Element Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • Insulin
  • MIRN33a microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs
  • Oligoribonucleotides, Antisense
  • Sterol Regulatory Element Binding Proteins
  • Cholesterol
  • Glucose