MicroRNAs in orthopaedic research: Disease associations, potential therapeutic applications, and perspectives

Audrey McAlinden, Gun Il Im

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that function to control many cellular processes by their ability to suppress expression of specific target genes. Tens to hundreds of target genes may be affected by one miRNA, thereby resulting in modulation of multiple pathways in any given cell type. Therefore, altered expression of miRNAs (i.e., during tissue development or in scenarios of disease or cellular stress) can have a profound impact on processes regulating cell differentiation, metabolism, proliferation, or apoptosis, for example. Over the past 5–10 years, thousands of reports have been published on miRNAs in cartilage and bone biology or disease, thus highlighting the significance of these non-coding RNAs in regulating skeletal development and homeostasis. For the purpose of this review, we will focus on miRNAs or miRNA families that have demonstrated function in vivo within the context of cartilage, bone or other orthopaedic-related tissues (excluding muscle). Specifically, we will discuss studies that have utilized miRNA transgenic mouse models or in vivo approaches to target a miRNA with the aim of altering conditions such as osteoarthritis, osteoporosis and bone fractures in rodents. We will not discuss miRNAs in the context skeletal cancers since this topic is worthy of a review of its own. Overall, we aim to provide a comprehensive description of where the field currently stands with respect to the therapeutic potential of specific miRNAs to treat orthopaedic conditions and current technologies to target and modify miRNA function in vivo.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-51
Number of pages19
JournalJournal of Orthopaedic Research
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jan 2018


  • MicroRNAs (miRNAs)
  • bone
  • cartilage
  • osteoarthritis
  • skeletal development


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