Integrating microRNAs into a system biology approach to acute lung injury
Garcia, Joe G.N.
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Acute lung injury (ALI), including the ventilator-induced lung injury (VILI) and the more severe acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS), are common and complex inflammatory lung diseases potentially affected by various genetic and non-genetic factors. Using the candidate gene approach, genetic variants associated with immune response and inflammatory pathways have been identified and implicated in ALI. Since gene expression is an intermediate phenotype that resides between DNA sequence variation and higher level cellular or whole-body phenotypes, the illustration of gene expression regulatory networks could potentially enhance understanding of disease susceptibility and the development of inflammatory lung syndromes. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as a novel class of gene regulators which play critical roles in complex diseases including ALI. Comparisons of global miRNA profiles in animal models of ALI and VILI identified several miRNAs (e.g., miR-146a, miR-155) previously implicated in immune response and inflammatory pathways. Therefore, via regulation of target genes in these biological processes and pathways, miRNAs potentially contribute to the development of ALI. While this line of inquiry exists at a nascent stage, miRNAs have the potential to be critical components of a comprehensive model for inflammatory lung disease built by a systems biology approach that integrates genetic, genomic, proteomic, epigenetic as well environmental stimuli information. Given their particularly recognized role in regulation of immune and inflammatory responses, miRNAs also serve as novel therapeutic targets and biomarkers for ALI/ARDS or VILI, thus facilitating the realization of personalized medicine for individuals with acute inflammatory lung disease.
acute lung injury