Author(s): Thamilarasan M, Koczan D, Hecker M, Paap B, Zettl UK
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Abstract MicroRNA (miRNA) are small non-coding RNA molecules about 21-25 nucleotides long. They control gene regulation by translational repression and cleavage. Several studies have shown that many miRNA are associated with the etiology of different diseases. Recent developments in diverse miRNA profiling platforms like microarray and quantitative real-time PCR may enable the identification of specific miRNA as novel diagnostic and predictive markers for various diseases. MiRNAs could even be used as therapeutic drug targets. Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic autoimmune disease affecting the central nervous system. Dysregulated immune system processes result in demyelination of neurons and consequently, electrical impulses that travel along the nerves are disrupted resulting in the impairment of organs. In the past three years, there has been an increased interest in establishing miRNA-based biomarkers for MS. So far, there are six studies on miRNA expression in MS patients in which first miRNAs were discovered as potential disease markers. For instance, one study showed that blood levels of miR-145 can discriminate MS patients from healthy controls, and another showed that active lesions in the brain are characterized by a strong up-regulation of miR-155. Studies on experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis (EAE), the animal model of MS, further support the significance of miRNA as e.g. mice with miR-155 deletion are highly resistant to EAE. Such investigations help to understand the molecular processes involved in the disease. The identification of miRNA markers that are associated with type of MS, individual disease activity or clinical progression under treatment may open new avenues for early diagnosis and optimized therapy of MS. Copyright © 2011 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
This article was published in Autoimmun Rev
and referenced in Journal of Clinical & Cellular Immunology