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Adv Nutr. 2011 Nov;2(6):472-85. doi: 10.3945/an.111.001206. Epub 2011 Nov 3.

MicroRNA, nutrition, and cancer prevention.

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Nutritional Science Research Group, National Cancer Institute, Bethesda, MD 20892, USA..


MicroRNA (miRNA) are small noncoding RNA molecules that are involved in post-transcriptional gene silencing. Alterations in miRNA expression are observed in and may underlie many different human diseases, including cancer. In fact, miRNA have been shown to affect the hallmarks of cancer, including sustaining proliferative signaling, evading growth suppressors, resisting cell death, enabling replicative immortality, inducing angiogenesis, and activating invasion and metastasis. Genetic and epigenetic alterations may explain aberrant miRNA expression in cancer cells and may also contribute to cancer risk. It is now thought that by circulating through the bloodstream, miRNA can exert their effects at distant sites as well as within the cells of origin. Recent evidence suggests that nutrients and other bioactive food components protect against cancer through modulation of miRNA expression. Moreover, dietary factors have been shown to modify miRNA expression and their mRNA targets in various cancer processes, including apoptosis, cell cycle regulation, differentiation, inflammation, angiogenesis, and metastasis as well as pathways in stress response. Herein, we provide a brief overview of dietary modulation of miRNA expression and its potential role in cancer prevention. Understanding the affect of dietary factors on miRNA expression and function may provide insight on prevention strategies to reduce the burden of cancer.

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