miRNAs in Health and Disease: A Focus on the Breast Cancer Metastatic Cascade towards the Brain

Marta Sereno, Mafalda Videira, Imola Wilhelm, István A. Krizbai, Maria Alexandra Brito

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that mainly act by binding to target genes to regulate their expression. Due to the multitude of genes regulated by miRNAs they have been subject of extensive research in the past few years. This state-of-the-art review summarizes the current knowledge about miRNAs and illustrates their role as powerful regulators of physiological processes. Moreover, it highlights their aberrant expression in disease, including specific cancer types and the differential hosting-metastases preferences that influence several steps of tumorigenesis. Considering the incidence of breast cancer and that the metastatic disease is presently the major cause of death in women, emphasis is put in the role of miRNAs in breast cancer and in the regulation of the different steps of the metastatic cascade. Furthermore, we depict their involvement in the cascade of events underlying breast cancer brain metastasis formation and development. Collectively, this review shall contribute to a better understanding of the uniqueness of the biologic roles of miRNAs in these processes, to the awareness of miRNAs as new and reliable biomarkers and/or of therapeutic targets, which can change the landscape of a poor prognosis and low survival rates condition of advanced breast cancer patients.

Original languageEnglish
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - Jul 28 2020


  • biomarkers
  • blood–brain barrier
  • brain metastases
  • breast cancer
  • metastatic cascade
  • microRNAs

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