Eating microRNAs – pharmacological opportunities for cross‐kingdom regulation and implications in host gene and gut microbiota modulation

Cross‐kingdom communication via non‐coding RNAs is a recent discovery. Exogenous microRNAs (exog‐miRNAs) mainly enter the host via the diet. Generally considered unstable in the gastrointestinal tract, some exogenous RNAs may resist these conditions, especially if transported in extracellular vesicles. They could then reach the intestines and more probably exert a regulatory effect.

Researchers from the Madrid Institute for Advanced Studies give an overview of recent discoveries concerning dietary miRNAs, possible ways of enhancing their resistance to food processing and gut conditions, their transport in extracellular vesicles (animal‐ and plant‐origin) and possible biological effects on recipient cells after ingestion. They critically focus on what they believe are the most relevant data for future pharmacological development of dietary miRNAs as therapeutic agents. Finally, the researchers discuss the miRNA‐mediated cross‐kingdom regulation between diet, host and the gut microbiota. They conclude that, despite many obstacles and challenges, extracellular miRNAs are serious candidates to be targeted pharmacologically for development of new therapeutic agents.


A schematic model of the journey and the uptake of food-derived miRNAs (exog-miRNAs) into human cells (left panel). Schematic representation of EVs (exosomes and exosome-like nanoparticles; ELNPs) biogenesis and secretion (right panel).

Del Pozo-Acebo L, López de Las Hazas MC, Margollés A, Dávalos A, García-Ruiz A. (2021) Eating microRNAs: pharmacological opportunities for cross-kingdom regulation and implications in host gene and gut microbiota modulation. Br J Pharmacol [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]

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