Role of MicroRNAs in Fibrosis

Open Rheumatol J. 2012;6:130-9. doi: 10.2174/1874312901206010130. Epub 2012 Jun 15.


Fibrosis is the leading cause of organ dysfunction in diseases such as systemic sclerosis, liver cirrhosis, cardiac fibrosis, progressive kidney disease, and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. The hallmark of fibrosis is tissue remodeling with excess deposition of extracellular matrix components, predominantly collagens. Different cell types, cytokines, growth factors, and enzymes interact in complex pathogenic networks with myofibroblasts playing a pivotal role. MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNAs acting as negative regulators of gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. MicroRNAs have been associated with many basic cellular processes as well as with a wide spectrum of diseases, most notably cancer. This review provides a comprehensive overview of microRNAs regulating profibrotic pathways and extracellular matrix synthesis. The potential of miRNA for targeted therapeutic approaches in fibrotic disorders is also discussed.

Keywords: Fibrosis; antagomirs.; connective tissue growth factor (CTGF); epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition (EMT); extracellular matrix (ECM); fibroblasts; microRNA (miRNA)-mediated gene regulation regulation; signaling pathways; transforming growth factor-beta (TGF-β).