Background: The Unfolded Protein Response (UPR) is a well conserved mechanism that
mammalian cells use to cope with stress and infections. This mechanism is exquisitely regulated at several
levels, including post-transcriptional modifications by microRNAs. These small non-coding RNAs are
mainly involved in the degradation of mRNA, thereby blocking protein translation. The finely balanced
interplay between the UPR and microRNAs is altered in several disorders, contributing to both disease
aetiology and pathology.
Methods: We review and explore alterations in the UPR and microRNAs in several inflammatory
conditions, including bone, lung, and neurodegenerative diseases. We also evaluate the impact of these
alterations on the disruption of cellular homeostasis and suggest possible therapeutic options to restore this
Results: Several components of the UPR, including IRE1, ATF6, and PERK, are clearly dysregulated in
inflammatory bone, lung, and neurodegenerative diseases, contributing to the inflammatory process in these
disorders. XBP1s, which is downstream of IRE1, is shown to be dysregulated in several diseases, and
significantly contributes to the inflammatory process. MicroRNAs show unique dysregulated signatures in
each individual tissue and disorder, suggesting that these small transcripts may regulate different pathways in
a cell-dependent manner. Finally, there are functional connections between these dysregulated microRNAs
and the UPR, which may underlie important pathological aspects of these disorders.
Conclusion: It is evident that microRNAs regulate several components of the UPR and that these
small non-coding RNAs, or other molecules that restore the UPR balance, may represent possible
therapeutic options to normalise intracellular homeostasis.