World Journal of Surgery

, Volume 33, Issue 4, pp 667–684 | Cite as

MicroRNAs: Control and Loss of Control in Human Physiology and Disease

  • Min Li
  • Christian Marin-Muller
  • Uddalak Bharadwaj
  • Kwong-Hon Chow
  • Qizhi Yao
  • Changyi ChenEmail author


Analysis of the human genome indicates that a large fraction of the genome sequences are RNAs that do not encode any proteins, also known as non-coding RNAs. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a group of small non-coding RNA molecules 20–22 nucleotides (nt) in length that are predicted to control the activity of approximately 30% of all protein-coding genes in mammals. miRNAs play important roles in many diseases, including cancer, cardiovascular disease, and immune disorders. The expression of miRNAs can be regulated by epigenetic modification, DNA copy number change, and genetic mutations. miRNAs can serve as a valuable therapeutic target for a large number of diseases. For miRNAs with oncogenic capabilities, potential therapies include miRNA silencing, antisense blocking, and miRNA modifications. For miRNAs with tumor suppression functions, overexpression of those miRNAs might be a useful strategy to inhibit tumor growth. In this review, we discuss the current progress of miRNA research, regulation of miRNA expression, prediction of miRNA targets, and regulatory role of miRNAs in human physiology and diseases, with a specific focus on miRNAs in pancreatic cancer, liver cancer, colorectal cancer, cardiovascular disease, the immune system, and infectious disease. This review provides valuable information for clinicians and researchers who want to recognize the newest advances in this new field and identify possible lines of investigation in miRNAs as important mediators in human physiology and diseases.


Pancreatic Cancer miRNA Expression miRNA Target miRNA Gene Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia Patient 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



Authors thank Dr. Yuqing Zhang and Dr. Hao Wang for their assistance in the literature search and critical discussions.


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Copyright information

© Société Internationale de Chirurgie 2008

Authors and Affiliations

  • Min Li
    • 1
  • Christian Marin-Muller
    • 1
  • Uddalak Bharadwaj
    • 1
  • Kwong-Hon Chow
    • 1
  • Qizhi Yao
    • 1
    • 2
  • Changyi Chen
    • 1
    • 2
    Email author
  1. 1.Molecular Surgeon Research Center, Division of Vascular Surgery and Endovascular Therapy, Michael E. DeBakey Department of Surgery-MARB 413Baylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA
  2. 2.Michael E. DeBakey VA Medical CenterBaylor College of MedicineHoustonUSA

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