Drug-induced liver injury (DILI) is major problem for both the drug industry and for clinicians. There are two basic categories of DILI: intrinsic and idiosyncratic. The former is the chief cause of acute liver failure in several developed countries, while the latter is the most common reason for post-marketing drug withdrawal and a major reason for failure to approve new drugs in the U.S. Although considerably more progress has been made in the study of intrinsic DILI, our understanding of both forms of drug hepatotoxicity remains incomplete. Recent work involving microRNAs (miRNAs) has advanced our knowledge of DILI in two ways: (1) possible roles of miRNAs in the pathophysiological mechanisms of DILI have been identified, and (2) circulating miRNA profiles have shown promise for the detection and diagnosis of DILI in clinical settings. The purpose of this review is to summarize major findings in these two areas of research. Taken together, exciting progress has been made in the study of miRNAs in DILI. Possible mechanisms through which miRNA species contribute to the basic mechanisms of DILI are beginning to emerge, and new miRNA-based biomarkers have the potential to greatly improve diagnosis of liver injury and prediction of patient outcomes.
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