, Volume 26, Issue 3, pp 131–141 | Cite as

MicroRNAs in Rheumatoid Arthritis

Potential Role in Diagnosis and Therapy
  • Mária FilkováEmail author
  • Astrid Jüngel
  • Renate E. Gay
  • Steffen Gay
Leading Article


Rheumatoid arthritis (RA) is a systemic, inflammatory, autoimmune disorder with progressive articular damage that may result in lifelong disability. Although major strides in understanding the disease have been made, the pathogenesis of RA has not yet been fully elucidated. Early treatment can prevent severe disability and lead to remarkable patient benefits, although a lack of therapeutic efficiency in a considerable number of patients remains problematic.

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small, non-coding RNAs that, depending upon base pairing to messenger RNA (mRNA), mediate mRNA cleavage, translational repression or mRNA destabilization. As fine tuning regulators of gene expression, miRNAs are involved in crucial cellular processes and their dysregulation has been described in many cell types in different diseases. In body fluids, miRNAs are present in microvesicles or incorporated into complexes with Argonaute 2 (Ago 2) or high-density lipoproteins and show high stability. Therefore, they are of interest as potential biomarkers of disease in daily diagnostic applications. Targeting miRNAs by gain or loss of function approaches have brought therapeutic effects in various animal models.

Over the past several years it has become clear that alterations exist in the expression of miRNAs in patients with RA. Increasing numbers of studies have shown that dysregulation of miRNAs in peripheral blood mononuclear cells or isolated T lymphocytes, in synovial tissue and synovial fibroblasts that are considered key effector cells in joint destruction, contributes to inflammation, degradation of extracellular matrix and invasive behaviour of resident cells. Thereby, miRNAs maintain the pathophysiological process typical of RA.

The aim of the current review is to discuss the available evidence linking the expression of miRNAs to inflammatory and immune response in RA and their potential as biomarkers and the novel targets for treatment in patients with RA.


Rheumatoid Arthritis Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cell Rheumatoid Arthritis Patient Synovial Fluid Synovial Tissue 
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.



This work was supported by IAR-EPALINGES, FP7 Masterswitch and ARTICULUM fellowship. The authors have no conflicts of interest that are directly relevant to the content of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing AG 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  • Mária Filková
    • 1
    Email author
  • Astrid Jüngel
    • 1
  • Renate E. Gay
    • 1
  • Steffen Gay
    • 1
  1. 1.Center of Experimental RheumatologyUniversity Hospital ZurichZurichSwitzerland

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