Small molecule, big prospects: MicroRNA in pregnancy and its complications

Meng Cai, Gopi K. Kolluru, Asif Ahmed*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


MicroRNAs are small, noncoding RNA molecules that regulate target gene expression in the posttranscriptional level. Unlike siRNA, microRNAs are "fine-tuners" rather than "switches" in the regulation of gene expression; thus they play key roles in maintaining tissue homeostasis. The aberrant microRNA expression is implicated in the disease process. To date, numerous studies have demonstrated the regulatory roles of microRNAs in various pathophysiological conditions. In contrast, the study of microRNA in pregnancy and its associated complications, such as preeclampsia (PE), fetal growth restriction (FGR), and preterm labor, is a young field. Over the last decade, the knowledge of pregnancy-related microRNAs has increased and the molecular mechanisms by which microRNAs regulate pregnancy or its associated complications are emerging. In this review, we focus on the recent advances in the research of pregnancy-related microRNAs, especially their function in pregnancy-associated complications and the potential clinical applications. Here microRNAs that associate with pregnancy are classified as placenta-specific, placenta-associated, placenta-derived circulating, and uterine microRNA according to their localization and origin. MicroRNAs offer a great potential for developing diagnostic and therapeutic targets in pregnancy-related disorders.

Original languageEnglish
Article number6972732
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Pregnancy
Publication statusPublished - 20 Jun 2017

Bibliographical note

Copyright © 2017 Meng Cai 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.


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