• microRNA;
  • gene expression;
  • schizophrenia;
  • depression;
  • systematic review


MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNA molecules that regulate gene expression, including genes involved in neuronal function and plasticity that have relevance for brain function and mental health. We therefore performed a systematic review of miRNAs in general adult psychiatric disorders.


Systematic searches in PubMed/MEDLINE and Web of Science were conducted to identify published clinical articles on microRNAs in general adult psychiatric disorders. We also reviewed references from included articles.


There is mounting evidence of microRNAs’ regulatory roles in a number of central nervous system processes, including neurogenesis and synaptic plasticity. The majority of clinical studies of microRNAs in psychiatric disorders are in schizophrenia, where a number of specific microRNAs have been identified in separate studies. There is some evidence of marked downregulation of some microRNAs in affective disorders. Treatment with antidepressants appears to upregulate microRNA levels. There is currently little evidence from human studies in anxiety, addiction or other psychiatric disorders.


MicroRNA research in psychiatry is currently in a nascent period, but represents an emerging and exciting area, with the potential to clarify molecular mechanisms of disease and identify novel biomarkers and therapeutic agents.