Stroke is a leading cause of death and disability worldwide. Ischemic stroke is the dominant subtype of stroke and results from focal cerebral ischemia due to occlusion of major cerebral arteries. Thus, the restoration or improvement of reduced regional cerebral blood supply in a timely manner is very critical for improving stroke outcomes and poststroke functional recovery. The recovery from ischemic stroke largely relies on appropriate restoration of blood flow via angiogenesis. Newly formed vessels would allow increased cerebral blood flow, thus increasing the amount of oxygen and nutrients delivered to affected brain tissue. Angiogenesis is strictly controlled by many key angiogenic factors in the central nervous system, and these molecules have been well-documented to play an important role in the development of angiogenesis in response to various pathological conditions. Promoting angiogenesis via various approaches that target angiogenic factors appears to be a useful treatment for experimental ischemic stroke. Most recently, microRNAs (miRs) have been identified as negative regulators of gene expression in a post-transcriptional manner. Accumulating studies have demonstrated that miRs are essential determinants of vascular endothelial cell biology/angiogenesis as well as contributors to stroke pathogenesis. In this review, we summarize the knowledge of stroke-associated angiogenic modulators, as well as the role and molecular mechanisms of stroke-associated miRs with a focus on angiogenesis-regulating miRs. Moreover, we further discuss their potential impact on miR-based therapeutics in stroke through targeting and enhancing post-ischemic angiogenesis.
Keywords: microRNAs, angiogenesis, angiogenesis-regulating microRNAs (angiomiRs), cerebrovascular diseases, ischemic stroke, angiogenic factors, vascular endothelial cells, neurovascular unit.