Review articles

Role of microRNAs in endothelial cell pathophysiology

Teresa Staszel, Barbara Zapała, Anna Polus, Anna Sadakierska‑Chudy, Beata Kieć‑Wilk, Ewa Stępień, Iwona Wybrańska, Monika Chojnacka, Aldona Dembińska‑Kieć
Published online: October 01, 2011


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a family of small, noncoding RNAs that repress gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. Over 700 miRNAs have been identified in the human genome, of which 20% to 30% regulate human protein‑coding genes. Functional in vitro studies have shown that miRNAs are critical for endothelial cell gene expression and function. miRNAs were found in atherosclerosis, cardiac hypertrophy, arterial hypertension, coronary artery disease, diabetes, and inflammatory diseases. We review the current knowledge about the role of miRNAs in endothelial cells with emphasis on the regulation of cellular senescence, angiogenesis, and vascular inflammation. It has been shown that miR‑34a, miR‑217, miR‑200, miR‑146c, and miR‑181a are responsible for the regulation of cell stress and proliferation processes. Proangiogenic factors include miR‑130a, miR‑210, miR‑424, miR‑17‑92, miR‑27‑b, let‑7f, and miR‑217, while miR‑221 and miR‑222 have antiangiogenic properties. Other known miRNAs, including miR‑31, miR17‑3p, miR‑155, miR‑221, miR‑222, and miR‑126, are important factors in the regulation of vascular inflammation. Studies show that miRNA expression analysis can be used in the diagnosis and treatment of various diseases; however, additional research is needed before it is used in routine clinical setting.

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