Int J Biol Sci 2021; 17(13):3413-3427. doi:10.7150/ijbs.62506 This issue

Review

Targeting non-coding RNAs in unstable atherosclerotic plaques: Mechanism, regulation, possibilities, and limitations

Xiaoxin Li1#, Yanyan Yang1#, Zhibin Wang2, Shaoyan Jiang3, Yuanyuan Meng2, Xiaoxia Song2, Liang Zhao2, Lu Zou1, Min Li1, Tao Yu1,2✉

1. Institute for translational medicine, The Affiliated Hospital of Qingdao University, No. 38 Dengzhou Road, 266021, People's Republic of China.
2. Department of Cardiac Ultrasound, The Affiliated Hospital of Qingdao University, Qingdao 266000, China.
3. Department of Cardiology, The Affiliated Cardiovascular Hospital of Qingdao University, No. 5 Zhiquan Road, Qingdao 266000, China.
#These authors contributed equally to this paper.

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Citation:
Li X, Yang Y, Wang Z, Jiang S, Meng Y, Song X, Zhao L, Zou L, Li M, Yu T. Targeting non-coding RNAs in unstable atherosclerotic plaques: Mechanism, regulation, possibilities, and limitations. Int J Biol Sci 2021; 17(13):3413-3427. doi:10.7150/ijbs.62506. Available from https://www.ijbs.com/v17p3413.htm

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Abstract

Graphic abstract

Cardiovascular diseases (CVDs) caused by arteriosclerosis are the leading cause of death and disability worldwide. In the late stages of atherosclerosis, the atherosclerotic plaque gradually expands in the blood vessels, resulting in vascular stenosis. When the unstable plaque ruptures and falls off, it blocks the vessel causing vascular thrombosis, leading to strokes, myocardial infarctions, and a series of other serious diseases that endanger people's lives. Therefore, regulating plaque stability is the main means used to address the high mortality associated with CVDs. The progression of the atherosclerotic plaque is a complex integration of vascular cell apoptosis, lipid metabolism disorders, inflammatory cell infiltration, vascular smooth muscle cell migration, and neovascular infiltration. More recently, emerging evidence has demonstrated that non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs) play a significant role in regulating the pathophysiological process of atherosclerotic plaque formation by affecting the biological functions of the vasculature and its associated cells. The purpose of this paper is to comprehensively review the regulatory mechanisms involved in the susceptibility of atherosclerotic plaque rupture, discuss the limitations of current approaches to treat plaque instability, and highlight the potential clinical value of ncRNAs as novel diagnostic biomarkers and potential therapeutic strategies to improve plaque stability and reduce the risk of major cardiovascular events.

Keywords: atherosclerotic plaques, plaque instability, plaque rupture, non-coding RNAs