Diabetes mellitus is the most common metabolic disorder and is recognised as a dominant health threat of our time. Diabetes induces a widespread damage of the macro- and microvasculature in different organs and tissues and disrupts the endogenous vascular repair mechanisms, thus causing diffuse and severe complications. Moreover, diabetic patients respond poorly to surgical interventions aiming to "revascularise" (i.e., to restore blood flow supply) the ischemic myocardium or lower limbs. The molecular causes underpinning diabetes vascular complications are still underappreciated and druggable molecular targets for therapeutic interventions have not yet clearly emerged. Moreover, diabetes itself and diabetes complications are often silent killers, requiring new prognostic, diagnostic and predictive biomarkers for use in the clinical practice. Noncoding RNA (ncRNAs) are emerging as new fundamental regulators of gene expression. The small microRNAs (miRNAs, miRs) have opened the field capturing the attention of basic and clinical scientists for their potential to become new therapeutic targets and clinical biomarkers. More recently, long ncRNAs (lncRNAs) have started to be actively investigated, leading to first exciting reports, which further suggest their important and yet largely unexplored contribution to vascular physiology and disease. This review introduces the different ncRNA types and focuses at the ncRNA roles in diabetes vascular complications. Furthermore, we discuss the potential value of ncRNAs as clinical biomarkers, and we examine the possibilities for therapeutic intervention targeting ncRNs in diabetes. This article is part of a Special Issue titled: Non-coding RNAs.
Keywords: Biomarkers; Bone marrow-derived cells; Diabetes; Extracellular vesicles; Long noncoding RNAs; MicroRNAs; Vascular cells.
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