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This article is part of the Research Topic Regulatory RNAs in the Nervous System


Front. Cell. Neurosci., 11 March 2014 | http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fncel.2014.00075

Micro spies from the brain to the periphery: new clues from studies on microRNAs in neuropsychiatric disorders

  • 1Genetic Unit, IRCCS Centro S. Giovanni di Dio Fatebenefratelli, Brescia, Italy
  • 2Department of Molecular and Translational Medicine, University of Brescia, Brescia, Italy
  • 3Dipartimento di Scienze Farmacologiche e Biomolecolari, Università degli Studi di Milano, Milano, Italy
  • 4Neuropsychopharmacology Unit, IRCCS Centro S. Giovanni di Dio Fatebenefratelli, Brescia, Italy

microRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs (20–22 nucleotides) playing a major role in post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression. miRNAs are predicted to regulate more than 50% of all the protein-coding genes. Increasing evidence indicates that they may play key roles in the biological pathways that regulate neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity, as well as in neurotransmitter homeostasis in the adult brain. In this article we review recent studies suggesting that miRNAs may be involved in the pathophysiology of neuropsychiatric disorders and in the action of psychotropic drugs, in particular by analyzing the contribution of genomic studies in patients' peripheral tissues. Alterations in miRNA expression have been observed in schizophrenia, bipolar disorder, major depression, Parkinson's disease, Alzheimer's disease and other neuropsychiatric conditions. In particular, intriguing findings concern the identification of disease-associated miRNA signatures in peripheral tissues, or modifications in miRNA profiles induced by drug treatments. Furthermore, genetic variations in miRNA sequences and miRNA-related genes have been described in neuropsychiatric diseases. Overall, though still at a preliminary stage, several lines of evidence indicate an involvement of miRNAs in both the pathophysiology and pharmacotherapy of neuropsychiatric disorders. In this regard, the data obtained in peripheral tissues may provide further insights into the etiopathogenesis of several brain diseases and contribute to identify new biomarkers for diagnostic assessment improvement and treatment personalization.

Keywords: microRNA, schizophrenia, major depression, bipolar disorder, Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, genetic variation, SNP

Citation: Maffioletti E, Tardito D, Gennarelli M and Bocchio-Chiavetto L (2014) Micro spies from the brain to the periphery: new clues from studies on microRNAs in neuropsychiatric disorders. Front. Cell. Neurosci. 8:75. doi: 10.3389/fncel.2014.00075

Received: 30 November 2013; Accepted: 21 February 2014;
Published online: 11 March 2014.

Edited by:

Tommaso Pizzorusso, Università degli Studi di Firenze, Italy

Reviewed by:

David Gurwitz, Tel Aviv University, Israel
Kathy Keyvani, University Hospital Essen, Germany
Declan Marcellino McLoughlin, Trinity College Dublin, Ireland

Copyright © 2014 Maffioletti, Tardito, Gennarelli and Bocchio-Chiavetto. This is an open-access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (CC BY). The use, distribution or reproduction in other forums is permitted, provided the original author(s) or licensor are credited and that the original publication in this journal is cited, in accordance with accepted academic practice. No use, distribution or reproduction is permitted which does not comply with these terms.

*Correspondence: Luisella Bocchio-Chiavetto, Neuropsychopharmacology Unit, IRCCS Centro S. Giovanni di Dio Fatebenefratelli, Via Pilastroni 4, 25125 Brescia, Italy e-mail: lbocchio@fatebenefratelli.it