microRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small regulatory RNAs that decrease protein translation to fine-tune cellular function. Recently, miRNAs were found to transfer from a donor cell into a recipient cell via exosomes and microparticles. These microvesicles are found in blood, urine, saliva, and other fluid compartments. miRNAs are delivered with intact functionality and have been repeatedly shown to regulate protein expression in recipient cells in a paracrine fashion. Thus, transported miRNAs are a new class of cell-to-cell regulatory species. Exosomal miRNA transfer is now being reported in cardiovascular systems and disease. In the blood vessels, this transfer modulates atherosclerosis and angiogenesis. In the heart, it modulates heart failure, myocardial infarction, and response to ischemic preconditioning. This review describes our current understanding of extracellular vesicle miRNA transfer, demonstrating the roles of miR-126, miR-146a, miR-143, and other miRNAs being shuttled from endothelial cells, stem cells, fibroblasts and others into myocytes, endothelial cells, and smooth muscle cells to activate cellular changes and modulate disease phenotypes.
Keywords: Cardiovascular disease; Exosome; Microvesicle; miRNA.
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