MicroRNA-based therapy for glioblastoma: Opportunities and challenges

Eur J Pharmacol. 2023 Jan 5;938:175388. doi: 10.1016/j.ejphar.2022.175388. Epub 2022 Nov 17.


Glioblastoma (GBM) is the most common and aggressive primary malignant brain tumor and is characterized by high mortality and morbidity rates and unpredictable clinical behavior. The disappointing prognosis for patients with GBM even after surgery and postoperative radiation and chemotherapy has fueled the search for specific targets to provide new insights into the development of modern therapies. MicroRNAs (miRNAs/miRs) act as oncomirs and tumor suppressors to posttranscriptionally regulate the expression of various genes and silence many target genes involved in cell proliferation, the cell cycle, apoptosis, invasion, stem cell behavior, angiogenesis, the microenvironment and chemo- and radiotherapy resistance, which makes them attractive candidates as prognostic biomarkers and therapeutic targets or agents to advance GBM therapeutics. However, one of the major challenges of successful miRNA-based therapy is the need for an effective and safe system to deliver therapeutic compounds to specific tumor cells or tissues in vivo, particularly systems that can cross the blood-brain barrier (BBB). This challenge has shifted gradually as progress has been achieved in identifying novel tumor-related miRNAs and their targets, as well as the development of nanoparticles (NPs) as new carriers to deliver therapeutic compounds. Here, we provide an up-to-date summary (in recent 5 years) of the current knowledge of GBM-related oncomirs, tumor suppressors and microenvironmental miRNAs, with a focus on their potential applications as prognostic biomarkers and therapeutic targets, as well as recent advances in the development of carriers for nontoxic miRNA-based therapy delivery systems and how they can be adapted for therapy.

Keywords: GBM microenvironment; Glioblastoma (GBM); Nanoparticles (NPs); Oncomir and tumor suppressor miRNAs; miRNA-based therapy; microRNA (miRNA/miR).

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers
  • Brain Neoplasms* / genetics
  • Brain Neoplasms* / metabolism
  • Brain Neoplasms* / therapy
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Glioblastoma* / genetics
  • Glioblastoma* / metabolism
  • Glioblastoma* / therapy
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs* / metabolism
  • Tumor Microenvironment / genetics


  • MicroRNAs
  • Biomarkers