Small Non-coding RNAs: New Class of Biomarkers and Potential Therapeutic Targets in Neurodegenerative Disease

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


External organisations

  • Neuroscience and Ophthalmology Research Group, Institute of Inflammation and Ageing, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom.
  • National Institute for Health Research Surgical Reconstruction and Microbiology Research Centre, Queen Elizabeth Hospital Birmingham, Birmingham, United Kingdom.
  • Beckman Institute for Advanced Science and Technology, 405 N. Mathews Ave., Urbana, IL 61801, United States; Center for Nutrition, Learning and Memory, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL, United States; Department of Psychology, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL, United States; Division of Nutritional Sciences, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, IL, United States. Electronic address:


Neurodegenerative diseases (NDs) are becoming increasingly prevalent in the world, with an aging population. In the last few decades, due to the devastating nature of these diseases, the research of biomarkers has become crucial to enable adequate treatments and to monitor the progress of disease. Currently, gene mutations, CSF and blood protein markers together with the neuroimaging techniques are the most used diagnostic approaches. However, despite the efforts in the research, conflicting data still exist, highlighting the need to explore new classes of biomarkers, particularly at early stages. Small non-coding RNAs (MicroRNA, Small nuclear RNA, Small nucleolar RNA, tRNA derived small RNA and Piwi-interacting RNA) can be considered a "relatively" new class of molecule that have already proved to be differentially regulated in many NDs, hence they represent a new potential class of biomarkers to be explored. In addition, understanding their involvement in disease development could depict the underlying pathogenesis of particular NDs, so novel treatment methods that act earlier in disease progression can be developed. This review aims to describe the involvement of small non-coding RNAs as biomarkers of NDs and their potential role in future clinical applications.


Original languageEnglish
Article number364
JournalFrontiers in Genetics
Publication statusPublished - 26 Apr 2019


  • biomarkers, microRNAs, neurodegenerative disease, new therapeutic targets, small non-coding RNAs