MicroRNAs in bone diseases

L Gennari, S Bianciardi, D Merlotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


MicroRNAs are small, noncoding single-stranded RNAs that have emerged as important posttranscriptional regulators of gene expression, with an essential role in vertebrate development and different biological processes. This review highlights the recent advances in the function of miRNAs and their roles in bone remodeling and bone diseases. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small (∼22 nt), noncoding single-stranded RNAs that have emerged as important posttranscriptional regulators of gene expression. They are essential for vertebrate development and play critical roles in different biological processes related to cell differentiation, activity, metabolism, and apoptosis. A rising number of experimental reports now indicate that miRNAs contribute to every step of osteogenesis and bone homeostasis, from embryonic skeletal development to maintenance of adult bone tissue, by regulating the growth, differentiation, and activity of different cell systems inside and outside the skeleton. Importantly, emerging information from animal studies suggests that targeting miRNAs might become an attractive and new therapeutic approach for osteoporosis or other skeletal diseases, even though there are still major concerns related to potential off target effects and the need of efficient delivery methods in vivo. Moreover, besides their recognized effects at the cellular level, evidence is also gathering that miRNAs are excreted and can circulate in the blood or other body fluids with potential paracrine or endocrine functions. Thus, they could represent suitable candidates for becoming sensitive disease biomarkers in different pathologic conditions, including skeletal disorders. Despite these promising perspectives more work remains to be done until miRNAs can serve as robust therapeutic targets or established diagnostic tools for precision medicine in skeletal disorders. © 2016 International Osteoporosis Foundation and National Osteoporosis Foundation
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1191-1213
Number of pages23
JournalOsteoporosis International
Issue number4
Publication statusPublished - 2017

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    Gennari, L., Bianciardi, S., & Merlotti, D. (2017). MicroRNAs in bone diseases. Osteoporosis International, 28(4), 1191-1213. https://doi.org/10.1007/s00198-016-3847-5