Nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) has become the most common liver disorder. Strongly linked to obesity and diabetes, NAFLD has the characteristics of complex diseases with substantial heterogeneity. Accordingly, our ability to predict the risk of advanced NAFLD and provide efficient treatment may improve by a better understanding of the relationship between genotype and phenotype. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play a major role in the fine-tuning of gene expression and they have recently emerged as novel biomarkers and therapeutic tools in the management of NAFLD. These short non-coding RNA sequences act by partial repression or degradation of targeted mRNAs. Deregulation of miRNAs has been associated with different stages of NAFLD, while their biological role in the pathogenesis remains to be fully understood. Systems biology analyses based on predicted target genes have associated hepatic miRNAs with molecular pathways involved in NAFLD progression such as cholesterol and lipid metabolism, insulin signaling, oxidative stress, inflammation, and pathways of cell survival and proliferation. Moreover, circulating miRNAs have been identified as promising noninvasive biomarkers of NAFLD and linked to disease severity. This rapidly growing field is likely to result in major advances in the pathomechanism, prognostication, and treatment of NAFLD.
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