Big effects of small RNAs : a review of MicroRNAs in anxiety
Publication of this article was funded by the Stellenbosch University Open Access Fund.
The original publication is available at http://link.springer.com/journal/12035
Epigenetic and regulatory elements provide an additional layer of complexity to the heterogeneity of anxiety disorders. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small, noncoding RNAs that have recently drawn interest as epigenetic modulators of gene expression in psychiatric disorders. miRNAs elicit their effects by binding to target messenger RNAs (mRNAs) and hindering translation or accelerating degradation. Considering their role in neuronal differentiation and synaptic plasticity, miRNAs have opened up new investigative avenues in the aetiology and treatment of anxiety disorders. In this review, we provide a thorough analysis of miRNAs, their targets and their functions in the central nervous system (CNS), focusing on their role in anxiety disorders. The involvement of miRNAs in CNS functions (such as neurogenesis, neurite outgrowth, synaptogenesis and synaptic and neural plasticity) and their intricate regulatory role under stressful conditions strongly support their importance in the aetiology of anxiety disorders. Furthermore, miRNAs could provide new avenues for the development of therapeutic targets in anxiety disorders.