The role of microRNAs in skin fibrosis

Olubukola Babalola, Andrew Mamalis, Hadar Lev-Tov, Jared Jagdeo

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

65 Scopus citations


Fibrotic skin disorders may be debilitating and impair quality of life. There are few effective treatment options for cutaneous fibrotic diseases. In this review, we discuss our current understanding of the role of microRNAs (miRNAs) in skin fibrosis. miRNAs are a class of small, non-coding RNAs involved in skin fibrosis. These small RNAs range from 18 to 25 nucleotides in length and modify gene expression by binding to target messenger RNA (mRNA), causing degradation of the target mRNA or inhibiting the translation into proteins. We present an overview of the biogenesis, maturation and function of miRNAs. We highlight miRNA's role in key skin fibrotic processes including: transforming growth factor-beta signaling, extracellular matrix deposition, and fibroblast proliferation and differentiation. Some miRNAs are profibrotic and their upregulation favors these processes contributing to fibrosis, while anti-fibrotic miRNAs inhibit these processes and may be reduced in fibrosis. Finally, we describe the diagnostic and therapeutic significance of miRNAs in the management of skin fibrosis. The discovery that miRNAs are detectable in serum, plasma, and other bodily fluids, and are relatively stable, suggests that miRNAs may serve as valuable biomarkers to monitor disease progression and response to treatment. In the treatment of skin fibrosis, anti-fibrotic miRNAs may be upregulated using mimics and viral vectors. Conversely, profibrotic miRNAs may be downregulated by employing anti-miRNAs, sponges, erasers and masks. We believe that miRNA-based therapies hold promise as important treatments and may transform the management of fibrotic skin diseases by physicians.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)763-776
Number of pages14
JournalArchives of Dermatological Research
Issue number9
StatePublished - Nov 2013
Externally publishedYes


  • Collagen
  • MicroRNA
  • Skin fibrosis
  • Therapeutics
  • miRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Dermatology


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