MicroRNAs in Metabolism

Sara Vienberg, Julian Geiger, Søren Madsen, Louise Torp Dalgaard

Research output: Contribution to journalReviewpeer-review


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have within the past decade emerged as key regulators of metabolic homoeostasis. Major tissues in intermediary metabolism important during development of the metabolic syndrome, such as β-cells, liver, skeletal and heart muscle as well as adipose tissue, have all been shown to be affected by miRNAs. In the pancreatic β-cell, a number of miRNAs are important in maintaining the balance between differentiation and proliferation (miR-200 and miR-29 families) and insulin exocytosis in the differentiated state is controlled by miR-7, miR-375 and miR-335. MiR-33a and MiR-33b play crucial roles in cholesterol and lipid metabolism, whereas miR-103 and miR-107 regulates hepatic insulin sensitivity. In muscle tissue, a defined number of miRNAs (miR-1, miR-133, miR-206) control myofibre type switch and induce myogenic differentiation programmes. Similarly, in adipose tissue, a defined number of miRNAs control white to brown adipocyte conversion or differentiation (miR-365, miR-133, miR-455). The discovery of circulating miRNAs in exosomes emphasizes their importance as both endocrine signalling molecules and potentially disease markers. Their dysregulation in metabolic diseases, such as obesity, type 2 diabetes and atherosclerosis stresses their potential as therapeutic targets. This review emphasizes current ideas and controversies within miRNA research in metabolism
Original languageEnglish
JournalActa Physiologica
Issue number2
Pages (from-to)346-361
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2017


  • adipocytes
  • metabolism
  • MicroRNA
  • non-alcoholic hepato-steatosis
  • type 2 diabetes mellitus
  • β-cells

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