miRNAs (microRNAs) comprise a novel class of endogenous, small, non-coding RNAs that negatively regulate gene expression via degradation or translational inhibition of their target mRNAs. Recent studies have demonstrated that miRNAs are highly expressed in the cardiovascular system. Although we are currently in the initial stages of understanding how this novel class of gene regulators is involved in cardiovascular biological functions, a growing body of exciting evidence suggests that miRNAs are important regulators of cardiovascular cell differentiation, growth, proliferation and apoptosis. Moreover, miRNAs are key modulators of both cardiovascular development and angiogenesis. Consequently, dysregulation of miRNA function may lead to cardiovascular diseases. Indeed, several recent reports have demonstrated that miRNAs are aberrantly expressed in diseased hearts and vessels. Modulating these aberrantly expressed miRNAs has significant effects on cardiac hypertrophy, vascular neointimal lesion formation and cardiac arrhythmias. Identifying the roles of miRNAs and their target genes and signalling pathways in cardiovascular disease will be critical for future research. miRNAs may represent a new layer of regulators for cardiovascular biology and a novel class of therapeutic targets for cardiovascular diseases.

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