Dietary RNAs: New Stories Regarding Oral Delivery

Nutrients. 2015 Apr 30;7(5):3184-99. doi: 10.3390/nu7053184.


microRNAs (miRNAs), a class of small RNAs, are important regulators of various developmental processes in both plants and animals. Several years ago, a report showed the detection of diet-derived plant miRNAs in mammalian tissues and their regulation of mammalian genes, challenging the traditional functions of plant miRNAs. Subsequently, multiple efforts have attempted to replicate these findings, with the results arguing against the uptake of plant dietary miRNAs in healthy consumers. Moreover, several reports suggest the potential for "false positive" detection of plant miRNAs in human tissues. Meanwhile, some research continues to suggest both the presence and function of dietary miRNAs in mammalian tissues. Here we review the recent literature and discuss the strengths and weaknesses of emerging work that suggests the feasibility of dietary delivery of miRNAs. We also discuss future experimental approaches to address this controversial topic.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Administration, Oral
  • Diet
  • Dietary Proteins / administration & dosage*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / administration & dosage*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • Plant Proteins / administration & dosage
  • Plant Proteins / genetics*
  • RNA, Plant / administration & dosage*
  • RNA, Plant / metabolism


  • Dietary Proteins
  • MicroRNAs
  • Plant Proteins
  • RNA, Plant