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miRNAs: New Biomarkers and Therapeutic Targets in Dementia

[ Vol. 23 , Issue. 5 ]


Ana Teresa de Barros Viegas, Joana Ribeiro Guedes, Ana Rafaela Oliveira, Ana Maria Sequeira Cardoso and Ana Luisa Colaco Cardoso   Pages 669 - 692 ( 24 )


Background: Dementia is a complex pathological state that affects millions of individuals worldwide and is responsible for a huge socioeconomic burden, making it a major health concern of current times. Given the impact of dementia in both patients and caregivers, it is crucial to fully clarify the molecular mechanisms underlying dementia-associated disorders, since without this knowledge our ability to correctly diagnose and treat these diseases is severely hampered.

Methods: Epigenetic mechanisms, such as miRNA-mediated post-transcriptional regulation, have been reported to play a role in dementia pathogenesis. Given their ability to bind complementary mRNA sequences, miRNAs are able to induce temporary or permanent translation repression of their mRNA targets.

Results: Consequently, changes in miRNA levels may contribute to alterations in the expression of dementiarelated proteins, impacting the course of the disease. Conversely, studies have also reported that some of these proteins are able to regulate the biogenesis and transport of miRNAs, hinting at novel disease-related mechanisms that are now beginning to be explored. These findings have made miRNAs both interesting tools and promising targets in the design of novel therapeutic strategies. Moreover, the discovery of circulating miRNAs, which are released by cells of various tissues, including the brain, and travel in membrane-bound vesicles found in most biofluids, opened new possibilities concerning the usefulness of miRNAs as biomarkers of disease.

Conclusion: In this context, the major aim of this review is to discuss the relevance of these small non-coding RNAs in dementia, focusing on their role as gene expression regulators, their potential as biomarkers of dementia subtype and stage, and the hypothesis of using miRNA modulation as an innovative therapeutic approach to treat dementia-related disorders.


Dementia, microRNAs, biomarkers, therapy, immune system, neurodegeneration, neuroinflammation.


Inter-University Doctoral Programme in Ageing and Chronic Disease, Faculty of Medicine, University of Coimbra, Coimbra,, Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Faculty of Sciences and Technology, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, Coimbra, Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, 3004-517 Coimbra

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