MicroRNAs are endogenously expressed small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression on the posttranscriptional level. During the last years microRNAs have emerged as key regulators of several physiological and pathophysiological processes in the vascular wall. Endothelial cell functions and angiogenesis are critically regulated by microRNAs such as miR-126 and the miR-17-92 cluster in vitro and in vivo. Tumor angiogenesis is additionally controlled by miR-296 and miR-378. MicroRNAs also regulate smooth muscle cell phenotypes and control neointima formation and atherosclerosis. In this respect, miR-143 and miR-145 have been shown to play a crucial role. In this review, we summarize the role of microRNAs and their target genes in endothelial and smooth muscle cells and discuss their applicability as drug targets.
Keywords: Angiogenesis, microRNA, endothelial cells, atherosclerosis
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