Indexed on: 22 Jan '11Published on: 22 Jan '11Published in: JACC (Journal of the American College of Cardiology)
Vascular smooth muscle cells (VSMCs), which make up the arterial medial layer, possess a phenotype switching capability. This modulation of VSMCs is important in the development of atherosclerotic vascular disease. It has been recognized that VSMCs may also have a stabilizing role in advanced atherosclerotic plaques. Moreover, reduction of the proliferative capacity of these cells may be of benefit in reducing neointimal hyperplasia following therapeutic percutaneous intervention. The biology of microribonucleic acids (miRNAs) and their ability to modify smooth muscle biology has recently emerged in a number of investigations. These studies elucidated the key role of miRNAs, miR-143 and miR-145, in particular, in the regulation of SMC homeostasis in vitro, in murine models of targeted gene deletion, and also in human vascular pathology. This review places this burgeoning knowledge within the wider context of atherosclerosis and restenosis and explores the therapeutic potential of miRNAs to change the fate of VSMCs within the plaque.