Unravelling the complete genetic predisposition to high blood pressure (BP) has proven to be challenging. This puzzle and the fact that coding regions of the genome account for less than 2% of the entire human DNA support the hypothesis that genetic mechanism besides coding genes are likely to contribute to BP regulation. Non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) are emerging as key players of transcription regulation in both health and disease states. They control basic functions in virtually all cell types relevant to the cardiovascular system and, thus, a direct involvement with BP regulation is highly probable. Here, we review the literature about ncRNAs associated with human BP and essential hypertension, highlighting investigations, methodology and difficulties arising in the field. The most investigated ncRNAs so far are microRNAs (miRNAs), small ncRNAs that modulate gene expression by posttranscriptional mechanisms. We discuss studies that have examined miRNAs associated with BP in biological fluids, such as blood and urine, and tissues, such as vascular smooth muscle cells and the kidney. Furthermore, we review the interaction between miRNA binding sites and single nucleotide polymorphisms in genes associated with BP. In conclusion, there is a clear need for more human and functional studies to help elucidate the multifaceted roles of ncRNAs, in particular mid- and long ncRNAs in BP regulation.
- untranslated RNA
- long untranslated RNA