1Institute of Liver Diseases, Tongji Hospital, Tongji Medical College, Huazhong University of Science and Technology, Wuhan, Hubei 430030, P.R. China.
Hepatocellular carcinoma is a type of cancer characterized by significant morbidity and high mortality rates worldwide. Previous studies have revealed that alterations in microRNA (miRNA) expression are a common feature of cancer. Furthermore, as evolutionarily conserved, non-encoding RNAs, miRNAs have demonstrated fundamental roles in the various biological processes involved in cancer. Genome-wide miRNA expression profile studies and bioinformatic methods have provided comprehensive insight into the role of cancer-related miRNAs. In addition, investigation of the function and mechanisms of miRNAs has provided an understanding of the association with the pathogenesis of cancer. In the present review, the tumor-promoting or tumor-suppressive roles and underlying mechanisms of certain significant miRNAs at a single and integral level are summarized. Furthermore, the recognition of miRNA-gene networks and current advances in the potential use of miRNA-based diagnosis and therapy are discussed.