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Clinical and Developmental Immunology
Volume 2013, Article ID 186872, 11 pages
Review Article

Involvement of MicroRNA in Microglia-Mediated Immune Response

1PhD Programme in Experimental Biology and Biomedicine (PDBEB), CNC - Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, 3004-517 Coimbra, Portugal
2Institute for Interdisciplinary Research (IIIUC), University of Coimbra, 3030-789 Coimbra, Portugal
3CNC - Center for Neuroscience and Cell Biology, University of Coimbra, 3004-517 Coimbra, Portugal
4Department of Life Sciences, Faculty of Science and Technology, University of Coimbra, 3001-401 Coimbra, Portugal

Received 21 March 2013; Accepted 8 May 2013

Academic Editor: Anirban Basu

Copyright © 2013 J. Guedes et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are an abundant class of small noncoding RNA molecules that play an important role in the regulation of gene expression at the posttranscriptional level. Due to their ability to simultaneously modulate the fate of different genes, these molecules are particularly well suited to act as key regulators during immune cell differentiation and activation, and their dysfunction can contribute to pathological conditions associated with neuroinflammation. Recent studies have addressed the role of miRNAs in the differentiation of progenitor cells into microglia and in the activation process, aiming at clarifying the origin of adult microglia cells and the contribution of the central nervous system (CNS) environment to microglia phenotype, in health and disease. Altered expression of several miRNAs has been associated with Alzheimer’s disease, multiple sclerosis, and ischemic injury, hence strongly advocating the use of these small molecules as disease markers and new therapeutic targets. This review summarizes the recent advances in the field of miRNA-mediated regulation of microglia development and activation. We discuss the role of specific miRNAs in the maintenance and switching of microglia activation states and illustrate the potential of this class of nucleic acids both as biomarkers of inflammation and new therapeutic tools for the modulation of microglia behavior in the CNS.