Roles of Regulatory RNAs in Nutritional Control

Annu Rev Nutr. 2020 Sep 23;40:77-104. doi: 10.1146/annurev-nutr-122319-035633.


Small RNAs (sRNAs), including microRNAs (miRNAs), are noncoding RNA (ncRNA) molecules involved in gene regulation. sRNAs play important roles in development; however, their significance in nutritional control and as metabolic modulators is still emerging. The mechanisms by which diet impacts metabolic genes through miRNAs remain an important area of inquiry. Recent work has established how miRNAs are transported in body fluids often within exosomes, which are small cell-derived vesicles that function in intercellular communication. The abundance of other recently identified ncRNAs and new insights regarding ncRNAs as dietary bioactive compounds could remodel our understanding about how foods impact gene expression. Although controversial, some groups have shown that dietary RNAs from plants and animals (i.e., milk) are functional in consumers. In the future, regulating sRNAs either directly through dietary delivery or indirectly by altered expression of endogenous sRNA may be part of nutritional interventions for regulating metabolism.

Keywords: diet; exosome; gene regulation; metabolism; microRNA; nutrition.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Diet*
  • Gastrointestinal Microbiome
  • Gene Expression Regulation / physiology*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Nutritional Status*


  • MicroRNAs