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Circulation. 2007 Jul 17;116(3):258-67. Epub 2007 Jul 2.

MicroRNAs in the human heart: a clue to fetal gene reprogramming in heart failure.

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  • 1University of Würzburg, University Hospital, Department of Internal Medicine I, Cardiology, Würzburg, Germany.

Erratum in

  • Circulation. 2007 Jul 17;116(3):e135.



Chronic heart failure is characterized by left ventricular remodeling and reactivation of a fetal gene program; the underlying mechanisms are only partly understood. Here we provide evidence that cardiac microRNAs, recently discovered key regulators of gene expression, contribute to the transcriptional changes observed in heart failure.


Cardiac transcriptome analyses revealed striking similarities between fetal and failing human heart tissue. Using microRNA arrays, we discovered profound alterations of microRNA expression in failing hearts. These changes closely mimicked the microRNA expression pattern observed in fetal cardiac tissue. Bioinformatic analysis demonstrated a striking concordance between regulated messenger RNA expression in heart failure and the presence of microRNA binding sites in the respective 3' untranslated regions. Messenger RNAs upregulated in the failing heart contained preferentially binding sites for downregulated microRNAs and vice versa. Mechanistically, transfection of cardiomyocytes with a set of fetal microRNAs induced cellular hypertrophy as well as changes in gene expression comparable to the failing heart.


Our data support a novel mode of regulation for the transcriptional changes in cardiac failure. Reactivation of a fetal microRNA program substantially contributes to alterations of gene expression in the failing human heart.

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