Non-coding RNAs in cardiovascular cell biology and atherosclerosis

Francesca Fasolo, Karina Di Gregoli, Lars Maegdefessel, Jason L Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle (Academic Journal)peer-review

11 Citations (Scopus)
74 Downloads (Pure)


Atherosclerosis underlies the predominant number of cardiovascular diseases and remains a leading cause of morbidity and mortality worldwide. The development, progression and formation of clinically relevant atherosclerotic plaques involves the interaction of distinct and over-lapping mechanisms which dictate the roles and actions of multiple resident and recruited cell types including endothelial cells, vascular smooth muscle cells, and monocyte/macrophages. The discovery of non-coding RNAs including microRNAs, long non-coding RNAs, and circular RNAs, and their identification as key mechanistic regulators of mRNA and protein expression has piqued interest in their potential contribution to atherosclerosis. Accruing evidence has revealed non-coding RNAs regulate pivotal cellular and molecular processes during all stages of atherosclerosis, including; cell invasion, growth, and survival; cellular uptake and efflux of lipids, expression and release of pro- and anti-inflammatory intermediaries, and proteolytic balance. The expression profile of non-coding RNAs within atherosclerotic lesions and the circulation have been determined with the aim of identifying individual or clusters of non-coding RNAs which may be viable therapeutic targets alongside deployment as biomarkers of atherosclerotic plaque progression. Consequently, numerous in vivo studies have been convened to determine the effects of moderating the function or expression of select non-coding RNAs in well-characterised animal models of atherosclerosis. Together, clinicopathological findings and studies in animal models have elucidated the multifaceted and frequently divergent effects non-coding RNAs impose both directly and indirectly on the formation and progression of atherosclerosis. From these findings' potential novel therapeutic targets and strategies have been discovered which may pave the way for further translational studies and possibly taken forward for clinical application.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbercvz203
Pages (from-to)1732-1756
Number of pages25
JournalCardiovascular Research
Issue number12
Early online date7 Aug 2019
Publication statusPublished - 1 Oct 2019


  • atherosclerosis
  • non-coding RNA
  • microRNA
  • vascular smooth muscle cells
  • endothelial cells
  • macrophages

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