The consequences of injuries to the CNS are profound and persistent, resulting in substantial burden to both the individual patient and society. Existing treatments for CNS injuries such as stroke, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injury have proved inadequate, partly owing to an incomplete understanding of post-injury cellular and molecular changes. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are RNA molecules composed of 20-24 nucleotides that function to inhibit mRNA translation and have key roles in normal CNS development and function, as well as in disease. However, a role for miRNAs as effectors of CNS injury has recently emerged. Use of bioinformatics to assess the mRNA targets of miRNAs enables high-order analysis of interconnected networks, and can reveal affected pathways that may not be identifiable with the use of traditional techniques such as gene knock-in or knockout approaches, or mRNA microarrays. In this Review, we discuss the findings of miRNA microarray studies of spinal cord injury, traumatic brain injury and stroke, as well as the use of gene ontological algorithms to discern global patterns of molecular and cellular changes following such injuries. Furthermore, we examine the current state of miRNA-based therapies and their potential to improve functional outcomes in patients with CNS injuries.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience