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Biol Sex Differ. 2014 Feb 1;5(1):3. doi: 10.1186/2042-6410-5-3.

Influence of sex differences on microRNA gene regulation in disease.

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Department of Anesthesiology, Division of Molecular Medicine, and Cardiovascular Research Laboratories, David Geffen School of Medicine, University of California Los Angeles, BH-160CHS, Los Angeles, CA 90095-7115, USA.


Sexual dimorphism is observed in most human diseases. The difference in the physiology and genetics between sexes can contribute tremendously to the disease prevalence, severity, and outcome. Both hormonal and genetic differences between males and females can lead to differences in gene expression patterns that can influence disease risk and course. MicroRNAs have emerged as potential regulatory molecules in all organisms. They can have a broad effect on every aspect of physiology, including embryogenesis, metabolism, and growth and development. Numerous microRNAs have been identified and elucidated to play a key role in cardiovascular diseases, as well as in neurological and autoimmune disorders. This is especially important as microRNA-based tools can be exploited as beneficial therapies for disease treatment and prevention. Sex steroid hormones as well as X-linked genes can have a considerable influence on the regulation of microRNAs. However, there are very few studies highlighting the role of microRNAs in sex biased diseases. This review attempts to summarize differentially regulated microRNAs in males versus females in different diseases and calls for more attention in this underexplored area that should set the basis for more effective therapeutic strategies for sexually dimorphic diseases.

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