MicroRNAs in Atherosclerosis

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Micro-ribonucleic acids (miRNAs) are a class of endogenous non-coding ribonucleic acids that regulate gene expression. MiRNAs have been shown to act as key regulators in the vascular system, with wide-ranging physio-pathological effects. Atherosclerotic disease is a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. This review presents current knowledge on miRNAs implicated in atherosclerosis susceptibility, development and progression. They are involved in cell phenotype switching, response to shear stress, cell senescence, adhesion molecule expression, macrophage response to oxidised low-density lipoprotein, Toll-like receptor 4 expression, neointimal lesion formation, plaque angiogenesis and cellular cholesterol homeostasis. Clinically, early work has demonstrated the utility of miRNAs for differentiating patients with arterial disease from controls and predicting future cardiac events; this highlights potential diagnostic and prognostic roles. MiRNA involvement in the crucial stages of atherosclerosis promises new hope in treating arterial disease. However, issues regarding multiple miRNA targets, stability and delivery continue to present challenges.

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