A Smoking-Associated miRNA-mRNA Coexpression Network
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Adverse effects of cigarette smoking on our health are well documented. On the other hand, we do not fully understand the mechanisms by which these adverse effects occur. In this issue of Circulation: Cardiovascular Genetics, Willinger et al1 identified a smoking-related microRNA (miRNA)/messenger RNA (mRNA) coexpressed gene network in the whole blood of previous and current smokers. They performed the study as part of the extensive phenotypic characterization performed in the participants of the Framingham Heart Study.2 miRNAs, which are small noncoding RNAs that regulate gene expression by binding to their target mRNAs causing translational repression or target degradation,3 have been recognized for their role in cardiovascular pathology.4–6 The results of the current study add another dimension to previous studies by pointing to dysregulated inflammatory responses in leukocytes by miRNA-specific gene regulatory networks in cigarette smokers.
See Article by Willinger and Rong et al
The authors arrived at this conclusion via a series of well-designed experiments. They used total RNA isolated from peripheral whole blood obtained from 5023 nonfasting participants of the Framingham Study. These participants were part of the Offspring and Third Generation cohorts. The mean age of the participants was 55 years old, and 54% of them were female. Ten percent of them were current smokers, 41% were former smokers, and 48% had …