Acute kidney injury (AKI), caused mainly by ischemia-reperfusion, sepsis, or nephrotoxins (such as contrast medium), is identified by an abrupt decline in kidney function and is associated with high morbidity and mortality. Despite decades of efforts, the pathogenesis of AKI remains poorly understood, and effective therapies are lacking. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression at the posttranscriptional level to control cell differentiation, development, and homeostasis. Additionally, extracellular miRNAs might mediate cell-cell communication during various physiological and pathological processes. Recently, mounting evidence indicates that miRNAs play a role in the pathogenesis of AKI. Moreover, emerging research suggests that because of their remarkable stability in body fluids, microRNAs can potentially serve as novel diagnostic biomarkers of AKI. Of note, our previous finding that miR-494 is rapidly elevated in urine but not in serum provides insight into the ultimate role of urine miRNAs in AKI. Additionally, exosomal miRNAs derived from stem cells, known as the stem cell secretome, might be a potential innovative therapeutic strategy for AKI. This review aims to provide new data obtained in this field of research. It is hoped that new studies on this topic will not only generate new insights into the pathophysiology of urine miRNAs in AKI but also might lead to the precise management of this fatal disease.
Keywords: acute kidney injury; biomarker; microRNA.