Dr. Manuel Mayr
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding regulatory molecules that modify gene expression at the posttranscriptional level.
Christian Weber (Munich, DE) introduced the concept that endothelial miR-126 is a master regulator of atherosclerosis. Uptake of endothelial apoptotic bodies induced CXCL12 expression in endothelial cells, an important chemokine, which is inversely related to coronary artery disease in genome-wide association studies. Subsequent experiments showed that functional miR-126 was enriched in endothelial apoptotic bodies and had protective paracrine effects in apolipoprotein E-deficient mice, an animal model of atherosclerosis.
Ulf Landmesser (Zurich, CH) spoke about the role of miRNAs in progenitor cell-mediated cardiovascular repair. Caution is warranted in interpreting these data since several studies have shown that some common assays used for endothelial progenitors are not resulting in the outgrowth of genuine progenitor cells but angiogenic macrophages.
Gianluigi Condorelli (Milan, IT) discussed miR-1, an abundant cardiac miRNA, and its role in IGF-1 signalling. He also pointed out that messenger RNAs themselves may bind miRNAs and regulate their decay.
Eva Van Rooij (Boulder, US) stated that their company (MiRagene Therapeutics) is currently working on the development of anti-miRs but not miRmimics as novel therapeutics. MiRmimics would result in an upregulation of the miRNA in all cell types. Anti-miRs have at least some degree of specificity by only targeting cells, which express this miRNA, i.e. miR-208 in cardiomyocytes, a regulator of cardiac hypertrophy. First results from a phase II clinical trial on hepatic miR-122 are expected for later this year, which will be important for the entire field.
MicroRNAs - a novel target in cardiovascular prevention
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