Background: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that play an important role in the regulation of various biological processes through their interaction with cellular mRNAs. A significant amount of miRNAs has been found in extracellular human body fluids (e.g. plasma and serum) and some circulating miRNAs in the blood have been successfully revealed as biomarkers for diseases including cardiovascular diseases and cancer. Released miRNAs do not necessarily reflect the abundance of miRNAs in the cell of origin. It is claimed that release of miRNAs from cells into blood and ductal fluids is selective and that the selection of released miRNAs may correlate with malignancy. Moreover, miRNAs play a significant role in pharmacogenomics by down-regulating genes that are important for drug function. In particular, the use of drugs should be taken into consideration while analyzing plasma miRNA levels as drug treatment. This may impair their employment as biomarkers.
Description: We enriched our manually curated extracellular/circulating microRNAs database, miRandola, by providing (i) a systematic comparison of expression profiles of cellular and extracellular miRNAs, (ii) a miRNA targets enrichment analysis procedure, (iii) information on drugs and their effect on miRNA expression, obtained by applying a natural language processing algorithm to abstracts obtained from PubMed.
Conclusions: This allows users to improve the knowledge about the function, diagnostic potential, and the drug effects on cellular and circulating miRNAs.