The role of microRNAs in the biology of rare diseases

Marco Salvatore, Armando Magrelli, Domenica Taruscio

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Rare diseases (RD) are characterized by low prevalence and affect not more than five individuals per 10,000 in the European population; they are a large and heterogeneous group of disorders including more than 7,000 conditions and often involve all organs and tissues, with several clinical subtypes within the same disease. Very often information concerning either diagnosis and/or prognosis on many RD is insufficient. microRNAs are a class of small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression at the posttranscriptional level by either degrading or blocking translation of messenger RNA targets. Recently, microRNA expression patterns of body fluids underscored their potential as noninvasive biomarkers for various diseases. The role of microRNAs as potential biomarkers has become particularly attractive. The identification of disease-related microRNAs is essential for understanding the pathogenesis of diseases at the molecular level, and is critical for designing specific molecular tools for diagnosis, treatment and prevention. Computational analysis of microRNA-disease associations is an important complementary means for prioritizing microRNAs for further experimental examination. In this article, we explored the added value of miRs as biomarkers in a selected panel of RD hitting different tissues/systems at different life stages, but sharing the need of better biomarkers for diagnostic and prognostic purposes.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)6733-6742
Number of pages10
JournalInternational Journal of Molecular Sciences
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2011


  • Biomarker
  • Hailey-hailey disease
  • Hepatoblastoma
  • MicroRNA
  • Multiple osteochondromas
  • Rare disease
  • Rett syndrome
  • Sezary syndrome

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Computer Science Applications
  • Molecular Biology
  • Catalysis
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Spectroscopy
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Medicine(all)


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