MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short, noncoding RNAs that influence biological processes by regulating gene expression after transcription. It was recently discovered that miRNAs are released into the circulation (ci-miRNAs) where they are highly stable and can act as intercellular messengers to affect physiological processes. This review provides a comprehensive summary of the studies to date that have investigated the effects of acute exercise and exercise training on ci-miRNAs in humans. Findings indicate that specific ci-miRNAs are altered in response to different protocols of acute and chronic exercise in both healthy and diseased populations. In some cases, altered ci-miRNAs correlate with fitness and health parameters, suggesting causal mechanisms by which ci-miRNAs may facilitate adaptations to exercise training. However, strong data supporting such mechanisms are lacking. Thus, a purpose of this review is to guide future studies by discussing current and novel proposed roles for ci-miRNAs in adaptations to exercise training. In addition, substantial, fundamental gaps in the field need to be addressed. The ultimate goal of this research is that an understanding of the roles of ci-miRNAs in physiological adaptations to exercise training will one day translate to therapeutic interventions.
- circulating microRNA
- intercellular communication
- Copyright © 2017 the American Physiological Society