Bivalve mollusks have been employed as sentinel organisms in environmental health programs due to their sedentary lifestyle, filter-feeding behavior and their ability to accumulate pathogens or toxin molecules inside tissues. Endocrine disrupting chemicals (EDCs) can be up taken and bioaccumulated, and due to sensibility of mollusks to these EDCs, being able to cause immune alterations. Recently, microRNAs (miRNAs) were shown to be involved in modulation and buffering developmental processes against the effects of environmental alterations and pathogenic microorganisms. Moreover, it is suggested that this miRNAs are incorporated into the estrogen-controlled immune network, regulating mechanism of immune gene expression at the posttranscriptional level, modulating immune responses as phagocytosis, redox reaction and apoptosis in bivalve haemocytes. Thus, miRNAs can be used as biomarkers that specifically elucidate immunotoxic effects caused by exogenous biotic or abiotic factors, and can act as useful tools in integrated monitoring environmental health programs. In this review, we aim to describe the investigations that have been carried out on miRNAs in bivalve mollusks, especially those associated with immune responses against infectious agents and xenobiotic exposure.
Mario Alberto Burgos-Aceves, Amit Cohen, Yoav Smith, Caterina Faggio, Science of The Total Environment, Volume 621, 15 April 2018, Pages 302–307