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MicroRNAs and ischemic heart disease: towards a better comprehension of pathogenesis, new diagnostic tools and new therapeutic targets.

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Cardiac Catheterization Laboratory, Institute of Cardiology, Sandro Pertini Hospital, Via dei Monti Tiburtini 385, Rome, Italy.


MicroRNAs are key, recently discovered, regulators of gene expression. They are involved in many physiological cellular pathways so it is not surprising that an altered microRNA expression pattern can be involved in the pathogenesis of many disease states. The possibility to manipulate microRNAs to obtain a therapeutical effect is very attractive since they represent specific targets in a particular cellular pathway and because it is quite easy to synthesize short oligonucleotides with the ability to interfere with microRNA mechanism of action. The main problem for microRNA-based therapy is represented by delivery. In the last two years many studies have underlined the involvement of microRNAs in many aspects of ischemic heart disease, the leading cause of morbidity and mortality in the Western World. MiR-29 is involved in fibrotic reaction after myocardial infarction while miR-21 may exert a fundamental role in post-angioplasty restenosis. MiR-208 is involved in the shift toward a fetal gene expression pattern in contractile proteins in heart failure. MiR-1 influences susceptibility to cardiac arrhythmias after myocardial infarction. This review will focus on microRNAs involvement in multiple aspects of ischemic heart disease and on their promising novel therapeutic applications including some recent patents.

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