As a class of important endogenous small noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression at the posttranscriptional level, microRNAs (miRNAs) play a critical role in many physiological and pathological processes. It is believed that miRNAs contribute to the development, differentiation, and synaptic plasticity of the neurons, and their dysregulation has been linked to a series of diseases. MiRNAs exist in the tissues and as circulating miRNAs in several body fluids, including plasma or serum, cerebrospinal fluid, urine, and saliva. There are significant differences between the circulating miRNA expression profiles of healthy individuals and those of patients. Consequently, circulating miRNAs are likely to become a novel class of noninvasive and sensitive biomarkers. Although little is known about the origin and functions of circulating miRNAs at present, their roles in the clinical diagnosis and prognosis of diseases make them attractive markers, particularly for tumors and cardiovascular diseases. Until now, however, there have been limited data regarding the roles of circulating miRNAs in central nervous system (CNS) diseases. This review focuses on the characteristics of circulating miRNAs and their values as potential biomarkers in CNS diseases, particularly in Alzheimer's disease, Huntington's disease, multiple sclerosis, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.
- Central nervous system diseases
- Circulating microRNAs