AimsThe long-term failure of autologous saphenous vein bypass grafts due to neointimal thickening is a major clinical burden. Identifying novel strategies to prevent neointimal thickening is important. Thus, this study aimed to identify microRNAs (miRNAs) that are dysregulated during neointimal formation and determine their pathophysiological relevance following miRNA manipulation.Methods and resultsWe undertook a microarray approach to identify dysregulated miRNAs following engraftment in an interpositional porcine graft model. These profiling experiments identified a number of miRNAs which were dysregulated following engraftment. miR-21 levels were substantially elevated following engraftment and these results were confirmed by quantitative real-time PCR in mouse, pig, and human models of vein graft neointimal formation. Genetic ablation of miR-21 in mice or grafted veins dramatically reduced neointimal formation in a mouse model of vein grafting. Furthermore, pharmacological knockdown of miR-21 in human veins resulted in target gene de-repression and a significant reduction in neointimal formation.ConclusionThis is the first report demonstrating that miR-21 plays a pathological role in vein graft failure. Furthermore, we also provided evidence that knockdown of miR-21 has therapeutic potential for the prevention of pathological vein graft remodelling.