Being the largest internal organ of the human body with the unique ability of self-regeneration, the liver is involved in a wide variety of vital functions that require highly orchestrated and controlled biochemical processes. Increasing evidence suggests that microRNAs (miRNAs) are essential for the regulation of liver development, regeneration and metabolic functions. Hence, alterations in intrahepatic miRNA networks have been associated with liver disease including hepatitis, steatosis, cirrhosis and hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). miR-122 is the most frequent miRNA in the adult liver, and a central player in liver biology and disease. Furthermore, miR-122 has been shown to be an essential host factor for hepatitis C virus (HCV) infection and an antiviral target, complementary to the standard of care using direct-acting antivirals or interferon-based treatment. This review summarizes our current understanding of the key role of miR-122 in liver physiology and disease, highlighting its role in HCC and viral hepatitis. We also discuss the perspectives of miRNA-based therapeutic approaches for viral hepatitis and liver disease.
Keywords: HBV; HCC; HCV; Hepatitis; Liver disease pathogenesis; miR-122.
Copyright © 2014 European Association for the Study of the Liver. Published by Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.