MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a novel class of small non-coding RNAs that negatively regulate gene expression at the posttranscriptional level by binding to the 3' untranslated region of target mRNAs leading to their translational inhibition or sometimes degradation. We uncovered a previously unknown alteration in temporal expression of a large set of miRNAs following a contusive spinal cord injury (SCI) in adult rats using microarray analysis. These altered miRNAs can be classified into 3 categories: (1) up-regulation, (2) down-regulation and (3) an early up-regulation at 4 hours followed by down-regulation at 1 and 7 days post-SCI. The bioinformatics analysis indicates that the potential targets for miRNAs altered after SCI include genes encoding components that are involved in the inflammation, oxidation, and apoptosis that are known to play important roles in the pathogenesis of SCI. These findings suggest that abnormal expression of miRNAs may contribute to the pathogenesis of SCI and are potential targets for therapeutic interventions following SCI.
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