Work in recent years has clearly established both miRNAs and lncRNAs as important regulators of lipid metabolism. Since the human genome encodes thousands of lncRNAs, it is expected that in the near future, other lncRNAs will also be identified as major regulators of lipid metabolism. Despite this exciting future, the analysis and the identification of functional lncRNAs will be challenging because of the modest conservation of these RNA molecules between species. Additionally, a more complete understanding of the mechanisms by which these lncRNAs excerpt their effects and additional studies directly assessing the impact of the lncRNAs on atherosclerotic plaque formation will be needed to properly assess the therapeutic potential of lncRNA-based therapeutic approaches.
On the other hand, a large amount of work has been done demonstrating that miRNAs are capable of targeting key factors regulating lipid metabolism and can have an important impact on the development and progression of atherosclerosis in animal models. As such, miRNA-based therapies may provide useful complimentary approaches for the treatment of atherosclerosis in humans. However, the complicated role of many miRNAs in targeting numerous different genes in different tissues and under different physiologic conditions raises concerns that these therapeutic approaches may result in unintended and possibly detrimental outcomes. These risks are highlighted by the adverse outcomes apparent in some experiments examining inhibition/ablation of miR-33 and miR-122. As such, additional studies including tissue-specific knockouts and careful target gene assessment will be important to understand the full impact of miRNA alterations prior to developing treatment strategies for human patients.
Conflict of Interest The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest. Human and Animal Rights N/A