Cells 2021 Jan 9;10(1). Epub 2021 Jan 9.
Department Bioquímica i Biologia Molecular, Institut de Neurociències, Universitat Autònoma de Barcelona, 08193 Cerdanyola del Vallès, Spain.
Pathogenic processes underlying Alzheimer's disease (AD) affect synaptic function from initial asymptomatic stages, long time before the onset of cognitive decline and neurodegeneration. Therefore, reliable biomarkers enabling early AD diagnosis and prognosis are needed to maximize the time window for therapeutic interventions. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have recently emerged as promising cost-effective and non-invasive biomarkers for AD, since they can be readily detected in different biofluids, including cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood. Moreover, a growing body of evidence indicates that miRNAs regulate synaptic homeostasis and plasticity processes, suggesting that they may be involved in early synaptic dysfunction during AD. Here, we review the current literature supporting a role of miRNAs during early synaptic deficits in AD, including recent studies evaluating their potential as AD biomarkers. Besides targeting genes related to Aβ and tau metabolism, several miRNAs also regulate synaptic-related proteins and transcription factors implicated in early synaptic deficits during AD. Furthermore, individual miRNAs and molecular signatures have been found to distinguish between prodromal AD and healthy controls. Overall, these studies highlight the relevance of considering synaptic-related miRNAs as potential biomarkers of early AD stages. However, further validation studies in large cohorts, including longitudinal studies, as well as implementation of standardized protocols, are needed to establish miRNA-based biomarkers as reliable diagnostic and prognostic tools.