Cardiovascular disease (CVD) is a significant cause of morbidity and mortality across the world. A large proportion of CVD deaths are secondary to coronary artery disease (CAD) and myocardial infarction (MI). Even though prevention is the best strategy to reduce risk factors associated with MI, the use of cardioprotective interventions aimed at improving patient outcomes is of great interest. Opioid conditioning has been shown to be effective in reducing myocardial ischemia-reperfusion injury (IRI) and cardiomyocyte death. However, the molecular mechanisms behind these effects are under investigation and could provide the basis for the development of novel therapeutic approaches in the treatment of CVD. Non-coding RNAs (ncRNAs), which are functional RNA molecules that do not translate into proteins, are critical modulators of cardiac gene expression during heart development and disease. Moreover, ncRNAs such as microRNAs (miRNAs) and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are known to be induced by opioid receptor activation and regulate opioid signaling pathways. Recent advances in experimental and computational tools have accelerated the discovery and functional characterization of ncRNAs. In this study, we review the current understanding of the role of ncRNAs in opioid signaling and opioid-induced cardioprotection.
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