MicroRNAs: how many in inflammatory bowel disease?

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Purpose of review

MicroRNAs (miRNAs), small noncoding RNA molecules of approximately 22 nucleotides, have emerged as critical mediators of gene expression. As the dysregulation of gene expression can have far reaching impact on health and disease, miRNAs are being examined as potent new mediators of disease as either biomarkers or potential therapeutic targets. The purpose of this review is to evaluate the contribution of miRNAs to inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) pathophysiology.

Recent findings

Recent studies have evaluated the expression of miRNAs in tissue and body fluid specimens from patients with the main subtypes of IBD – Crohn's disease and ulcerative colitis. Unique miRNA expression patterns that may distinguish IBD subtypes have been uncovered.


Significant progress has been made in illuminating the complex interactive networks of miRNAs and gene targets in IBD. The potential use of miRNAs as disease biomarkers or therapeutics shows promise. However, there are still significant hurdles to overcome before miRNA-based therapeutics and diagnostics will be of clinical utility.

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