microRNAs in asthma: potential therapeutic targets.
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PURPOSE OF REVIEW: Asthma is a global disease affecting millions of people. Current treatments are largely symptomatic and, although often effective, can be associated with various side effects. microRNAs (miRNAs/miRs) are regulatory RNAs that affect protein synthesis. They represent new therapeutic targets, and medicines that target specific miRNAs may have potential in the treatment of asthma.
RECENT FINDINGS: There have been a number of studies in the field of miRNA that implicate specific miRNAs in the pathophysiology of asthma. For example, studies using mouse models have identified miRNAs that are altered in response to allergen challenge. Certain miRNAs that are involved in the regulation of interleukin-13 and the TH2 response, key components of the asthmatic response, have been shown to be amenable to modulation by premiRs and antimiRs. Other studies have identified miRNAs that are implicated in bronchial smooth muscle hyperresponsiveness and proliferation. Single-nucleotide polymorphisms in miRNA responsive elements within asthma susceptibility genes, and also in miRNAs themselves, can also contribute to the asthma phenotype.
SUMMARY: Developing miRNA-based medicines to treat the pulmonary manifestations of asthma could yield therapeutics with new properties that have the potential to treat both the inflammation and hyperresponsivesness associated with this disease.