Int J Mol Sci 2013 Apr 17;14(4):8437-55. Epub 2013 Apr 17.
Hepato-Metabolic Disease Unit and Liver Research Unit, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, IRCCS, Piazza S. Onofrio, 4, 00165 Rome, Italy.
MicroRNAs are important post-transcriptional regulators in different pathophysiological processes. They typically affect the mRNA stability or translation finally leading to the repression of target gene expression. Notably, it is thought that microRNAs are crucial for regulating gene expression during metabolic-related disorders, such as nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). Several studies identify specific microRNA expression profiles associated to different histological features of NAFLD, both in animal models and in patients. Therefore, specific assortments of certain microRNAs could have enormous diagnostic potentiality. In addition, microRNAs have also emerged as possible therapeutic targets for the treatment of NAFLD-related liver damage. In this review, we discuss the experimental evidence about microRNAs both as potential non-invasive early diagnostic markers and as novel therapeutic targets in NAFLD and its more severe liver complications.