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Curr Atheroscler Rep. 2013 Dec;15(12):372. doi: 10.1007/s11883-013-0372-2.

Endothelial microRNAs and atherosclerosis.

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Department of Medicine, Cardiovascular Division, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, 77 Avenue Louis Pasteur, NRB-742F, Boston, MA, 02115, USA.


The vascular endothelium, a thin layer of endothelial cells (ECs) that line the inner surface of blood vessels, is a critical interface between blood and all tissues. EC activation, dysfunction, and vascular inflammation occur when the endothelium is exposed to various insults such as proinflammatory cytokines, oxidative stress, hypertension, hyperglycemia, aging, and shear stress. These insults lead to the pathogenesis of a range of disease states, including atherosclerosis. Several signaling pathways, especially nuclear factor κB mediated signaling, play crucial roles in these pathophysiological processes. Recently, microRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as important regulators of EC function by fine-tuning gene expression. In this review, we discuss how miRNAs regulate EC function and vascular inflammation in response to a variety of pathophysiologic stimuli. An understanding of the role of miRNAs in EC activation and dysfunction may provide novel targets and therapeutic opportunities for controlling atherosclerosis and other chronic inflammatory disease states.

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