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Int J Mol Sci. 2013 Mar 8;14(3):5519-44. doi: 10.3390/ijms14035519.

MicroRNAs in Human Placental Development and Pregnancy Complications.

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  • 1Department of Biology, York University, Toronto, Ontario M3J 1P3, Canada.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs, which function as critical posttranscriptional regulators of gene expression by promoting mRNA degradation and translational inhibition. Placenta expresses many ubiquitous as well as specific miRNAs. These miRNAs regulate trophoblast cell differentiation, proliferation, apoptosis, invasion/migration, and angiogenesis, suggesting that miRNAs play important roles during placental development. Aberrant miRNAs expression has been linked to pregnancy complications, such as preeclampsia. Recent research of placental miRNAs focuses on identifying placental miRNA species, examining differential expression of miRNAs between placentas from normal and compromised pregnancies, and uncovering the function of miRNAs in the placenta. More studies are required to further understand the functional significance of miRNAs in placental development and to explore the possibility of using miRNAs as biomarkers and therapeutic targets for pregnancy-related disorders. In this paper, we reviewed the current knowledge about the expression and function of miRNAs in placental development, and propose future directions for miRNA studies.

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