The mammalian intestine is not only an organ for food digestion and nutrient
absorption but also an integral part of the immune and endocrine systems. The intestinal
epithelium under stressful environments requires epithelial cells to rapidly elicit changes
in gene expression patterns to regulate their survival, adapt to stress, and maintain
epithelial homeostasis. Recently, miRNAs have emerged as a novel class of posttranscriptional
gene regulators that are fundamentally involved in many aspects of
intestinal epithelial differentiation, architecture, and barrier function. In this review, we
highlight the critical roles of miRNAs in both the crypt-villus axis of cellular self-renewal
and inflammation in the mammalian intestinal mucosa and their impact on the
microbiota. We also discuss the functions of specific miRNAs within the intestine to
better understand the cellular mechanisms that promote intestinal homeostasis, and the
influence of dietary components in the regulation of endogenous miRNA in the study of
nutrition and gene regulation in intestinal health.
Keywords: MicroRNA, intestinal epithelial cells, mucosal renewal, homeostasis, inflammation, microbiota.
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