The Promise and Challenges of Developing miRNA-Based Therapeutics for Parkinson's Disease

Cells. 2020 Mar 31;9(4):841. doi: 10.3390/cells9040841.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small double-stranded RNAs that exert a fine-tuning sequence-specific regulation of cell transcriptome. While one unique miRNA regulates hundreds of mRNAs, each mRNA molecule is commonly regulated by various miRNAs that bind to complementary sequences at 3'-untranslated regions for triggering the mechanism of RNA interference. Unfortunately, dysregulated miRNAs play critical roles in many disorders, including Parkinson's disease (PD), the second most prevalent neurodegenerative disease in the world. Treatment of this slowly, progressive, and yet incurable pathology challenges neurologists. In addition to L-DOPA that restores dopaminergic transmission and ameliorate motor signs (i.e., bradykinesia, rigidity, tremors), patients commonly receive medication for mood disorders and autonomic dysfunctions. However, the effectiveness of L-DOPA declines over time, and the L-DOPA-induced dyskinesias commonly appear and become highly disabling. The discovery of more effective therapies capable of slowing disease progression -a neuroprotective agent-remains a critical need in PD. The present review focus on miRNAs as promising drug targets for PD, examining their role in underlying mechanisms of the disease, the strategies for controlling aberrant expressions, and, finally, the current technologies for translating these small molecules from bench to clinics.

Keywords: Parkinson’s disease; RNA interference; RNAi therapeutic; alpha-synuclein; gene silence; microRNA.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biotechnology
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / genetics
  • Inflammation / pathology
  • MicroRNAs / therapeutic use*
  • Parkinson Disease / genetics*
  • Parkinson Disease / therapy*
  • Translational Research, Biomedical
  • alpha-Synuclein / metabolism


  • MicroRNAs
  • alpha-Synuclein