Idiopathic inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) is a complex set of disorders that predominantly includes ulcerative colitis and Crohn’s disease. The pathogenesis of IBD is multifactorial including genetic, infectious, and immunologic factors. MicroRNAs belong to a class of noncoding small RNAs that posttranscriptionally regulate gene expression, and they are an emerging class of genetic modifiers of IBD. Here, we focus on the use of unique microRNA expression patterns as biomarkers to classify and prognosticate disease severity in both mucosal tissue and serum from patients with either ulcerative colitis or Crohn’s disease. Furthermore, we discuss specific microRNAs with respect to their roles in IBD pathogenesis and fibrosis. We also discuss the role of microRNAs in IBD-associated carcinogenesis, including their role as biomarkers, tumor suppressors, and oncogenes. Finally, we discuss the emerging therapeutic applications of microRNA manipulation to lessen the effect of IBD and its sequelae. Recent discoveries of the diverse roles of microRNAs in IBD pathogenesis have the potential to provide new targeted therapeutics for personalized medicine.
Part of the book: New Insights into Inflammatory Bowel Disease