MicroRNAs are a class of small noncoding endogenous RNAs 19–25 nucleotides long, which play an important role in the post-transcriptional regulation of gene expression by targeting mRNA targets with subsequent repression of translation. MicroRNAs are involved in the pathogenesis of numerous diseases, including cancer. Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer death in the world. Lung cancer is usually associated with tobacco smoking. However, about 25% of lung cancer cases occur in people who have never smoked. According to the International Agency for Research on Cancer, asbestos has been classified as one of the cancerogenic factors for lung cancer. The mechanism of malignant transformation under the influence of asbestos is associated with the genotoxic effect of reactive oxygen species, which initiate the processes of DNA damage in the cell. However, epigenetic mechanisms such as changes in the microRNA expression profile may also be implicated in the pathogenesis of asbestos-induced lung cancer. Numerous studies have shown that microRNAs can serve as a biomarker of the effects of various adverse environmental factors on the human body. This review examines the role of microRNAs, the expression profile of which changes upon exposure to asbestos, in key processes of carcinogenesis, such as proliferation, cell survival, metastasis, neo-angiogenesis, and immune response avoidance.
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