Regulatory networks between neurotrophins and miRNAs in brain diseases and cancers

Acta Pharmacol Sin. 2015 Feb;36(2):149-57. doi: 10.1038/aps.2014.135. Epub 2014 Dec 29.


Neurotrophins are involved in many physiological and pathological processes in the nervous system. They regulate and modify signal transduction, transcription and translation in neurons. It is recently demonstrated that the neurotrophin expression is regulated by microRNAs (miRNAs), changing our views on neurotrophins and miRNAs. Generally, miRNAs regulate neurotrophins and their receptors in at least two ways: (1) miRNAs bind directly to the 3' untranslated region (UTR) of isoform-specific mRNAs and post-transcriptionally regulate their expression; (2) miRNAs bind to the 3' UTR of the regulatory factors of neurotrophins and regulate their expression. On the other hand, neurotrophins can regulate miRNAs. The results of BNDF research show that neurotrophins regulate miRNAs in at least three ways: (1) ERK stimulation enhances the activation of TRBP (HIV-1 TAR RNA-binding protein) and Dicer, leading to the upregulation of miRNA biogenesis; (2) ERK-dependent upregulation of Lin28a (RNA-binding proteins) blocks select miRNA biogenesis; (3) transcriptional regulation of miRNA expression through activation of transcription factors, including CREB and NF-κB. These regulatory processes integrate positive and negative regulatory loops in neurotrophin and miRNA signaling pathways, and also expand the function of neurotrophins and miRNAs. In this review, we summarize the current knowledge of the regulatory networks between neurotrophins and miRNAs in brain diseases and cancers, for which novel cutting edge therapeutic, delivery and diagnostic approaches are emerging.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain Diseases / genetics*
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Nerve Growth Factors / genetics*


  • MicroRNAs
  • Nerve Growth Factors