microRNAs in cardiovascular disease - clinical application

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microRNAs (miRNAs) are well-known, powerful regulators of gene expression, and their potential to serve as circulating biomarkers is widely accepted. In cardiovascular disease (CVD), numerous studies have suggested miRNAs as strong circulating biomarkers with high diagnostic as well as prognostic power. In coronary artery disease (CAD) and heart failure (HF), miRNAs have been suggested as reliable biomarkers matching up to established protein-based such as cardiac troponins (cT) or natriuretic peptides. Also, in other CVD entities, miRNAs were identified as surprisingly specific biomarkers - with great potential for clinical applicability, especially in those entities that lack specific protein-based biomarkers such as atrial fibrillation (AF) and acute pulmonary embolism (APE). In this regard, miRNA signatures, comprising a set of miRNAs, yield high sensitivity and specificity. Attempts to utilize miRNAs as therapeutic agents have led to promising results. In this article, we review the clinical applicability of circulating miRNAs in CVD. We are giving an overview of miRNAs as biomarkers in numerous CVD entities to depict the variety of their potential clinical deployment. We illustrate the function of miRNAs by means of single miRNA examples in CVD.

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