MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small, well-conserved noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression post-transcriptionally. They have been demonstrated to regulate a lot of biological pathways and cellular functions. Many miRNAs are dynamically regulated during central nervous system (CNS) development and are spatially expressed in adult brain indicating their essential roles in neural development and function. In addition, accumulating evidence strongly suggests that dysfunction of miRNAs contributes to neurological diseases. These observations, together with their gene regulation property, implicated miRNAs to be the key regulators in the complex genetic network of the CNS. In this review, we first focus on the ways through which miRNAs exert the regulatory function and how miRNAs are regulated in the CNS. We then summarize recent findings that highlight the versatile roles of miRNAs in normal CNS physiology and their association with several types of neurological diseases. Subsequently we discuss the limitations of miRNAs research based on current studies as well as the potential therapeutic applications and challenges of miRNAs in neurological disorders. We endeavor to provide an updated description of the regulatory roles of miRNAs in normal CNS functions and pathogenesis of neurological diseases.
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