2018 Volume 31 Issue 1 Pages 23-34
Mature microRNAs (miRNAs) are single-stranded RNAs with approximately 18–25 bases, and their sequences are highly conserved among animals. miRNAs act as posttranscriptional regulators by binding mRNAs, and their main function involves the degradation of their target mRNAs. Recent studies revealed altered expression of miRNAs in the kidneys during the progression of acute kidney injury (AKI) and chronic kidney disease (CKD) in humans and experimental rodent models by using high-throughput screening techniques including microarray and small RNA sequencing. Particularly, miR-21 seems to be strongly associated with renal pathogenesis both in the glomerulus and tubulointerstitium. Furthermore, abundant evidence has been gathered showing the involvement of miRNAs in renal fibrosis. Because of the complex morphofunctional organization of the mammalian kidneys, it is crucial both to determine the exact localization of the kidney cells that express the miRNAs, which has been addressed mainly using in situ hybridization methods, and to identify precisely which mRNAs are bound and degraded by these miRNAs, which has been studied mostly through in vitro analysis. To discover novel biomarker candidates, miRNA levels in urine supernatant, sediment, and exosomal fraction were comprehensively investigated in different types of kidney disease, including drug-induced AKI, ischemia-induced AKI, diabetic nephropathy, lupus nephritis, and IgA nephropathy. Recent studies also demonstrated the therapeutic effect of miRNA and/or anti-miRNA administrations. The intent of this review is to illustrate the state-of-the-art research in the field of miRNAs associated with renal pathogenesis, especially focusing on AKI and CKD in humans and animal models.