MicroRNAs (miRNAs) constitute a large family of noncoding RNAs, approximately 22 nucleotides long, which function as guide molecules in RNA silencing. Targeting most protein-coding transcripts, miRNAs are involved in nearly all developmental and pathophysiological processes in animals. To date, the regulatory roles of miRNAs in reproduction, such as fertilization, embryo development, implantation, and placenta formation, among others, have been demonstrated in numerous mammalian species, including domestic livestock such as pigs. Over the past years, it appeared that understanding the functions of miRNAs in mammalian reproduction can substantially improve our understanding of the biological challenges of successful reproductive performance. This review describes the current knowledge on miRNAs, specifically in relation to the peri-implantation period when the majority of embryonic mortality occurs in pigs. To present a broader picture of crucial peri-implantation events, we focus on the role of miRNA-processing machinery and miRNA–mRNA infarctions during the maternal recognition of pregnancy, leading to maintenance of the corpus luteum function and further embryo implantation. Furthermore, we summarize the current knowledge on cell-to-cell communication involving extracellular vesicles at the embryo–maternal interface in pigs. Finally, we discuss the potential of circulating miRNAs to serve as indicators of ongoing embryo–maternal crosstalk.
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