Role of microRNAs in kidney homeostasis and disease.
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are endogenous short (20-22 nucleotides) non-coding RNA molecules that mediate gene expression. This is an important regulatory mechanism to modulate fundamental cellular processes such as differentiation, proliferation, death, metabolism, and pathophysiology of many diseases. The miRNA expression profile of the kidney differs greatly from that of other organs, as well as between the different regions in the kidney. In kidneys, miRNAs are indispensable for development and homeostasis. In this review, we explore the involvement of miRNAs in the regulation of blood pressure, hormone, water, and ion balance pertaining to kidney homeostasis. We also highlight their importance in renal pathophysiology, such as in polycystic disease, diabetic nephropathy, nephrogenic diabetes insipidus, hypertension, renal cancer, and kidney fibrosis (epithelial-mesenchymal transition). In addition, we highlight the need for further investigations on miRNA-based studies in the development of diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic tools for renal diseases.