Published online Sep 27, 2018. doi: 10.4254/wjh.v10.i9.558
Peer-review started: March 28, 2018
First decision: April 19, 2018
Revised: April 24, 2018
Accepted: May 30, 2018
Article in press: May 30, 2018
Published online: September 27, 2018
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that modulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level by affecting both the stability and translation of complementary mRNAs. Several studies have shown that miRNAs are important regulators in the conflicting efforts between the virus (to manipulate the host for its successful propagation) and the host (to inhibit the virus), culminating in either the elimination of the virus or its persistence. An increasing number of studies report a role of miRNAs in hepatitis B virus (HBV) replication and pathogenesis. In fact, HBV is able to modulate different host miRNAs, particularly through the transcriptional transactivator HBx protein and, conversely, different cellular miRNAs can regulate HBV gene expression and replication by a direct binding to HBV transcripts or indirectly targeting host factors. The present review will discuss the role of miRNAs in the pathogenesis of HBV-related diseases and their role as a biomarker in the management of patients with HBV-related disease and as therapeutic targets.
Core tip: This review article will focus on the emerging puzzle of hepatitis B virus (HBV)-hepatocyte interaction via miRNAs, indirectly or directly modulating HBV replication and pathogenesis, and thus on the role of microRNAs in the natural history of HBV infection. We evaluated the literature on their possible future role as a biomarker in the management of patients with HBV-related disease and as therapeutic targets.