MicroRNAs (miRNAs), which mainly inhibit protein expression by targeting the 3'UTR (untranslated region) of mRNAs, are known to play various roles in the pathogenesis of many different types of diseases. Specifically, in bone diseases, recent emphasis has been placed on the involvement of miRNAs in the differentiation and proliferation of bone and cartilage cells, particularly with regards to how these mechanisms contribute to bone homeostasis. In this review, we summarize miRNAs that are important in the differentiation and proliferation of bone cells, and specific miRNAs associated with bone diseases, such as osteoporosis, osteoarthritis and rheumatoid arthritis. This review also provides the perspective that miRNA studies will identify not only new mechanisms in basic bone research, but also potential novel diagnostic biomarkers and drug targets for bone diseases.
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