Despite many recent advances in imaging and epidemiological data analysis, musculoskeletal injuries continue to be a welfare issue in racehorses. Peptide biomarker studies have failed to consistently predict bone injury. Molecular profiling studies provide an opportunity to study equine musculoskeletal disease. A systematic review of the literature was performed using preferred reporting items for systematic reviews and meta-analyses protocols (PRISMA-P) guidelines to assess the use of miRNA profiling studies in equine and human musculoskeletal injuries. Data were extracted from 40 papers between 2008 and 2020. Three miRNA studies profiling equine musculoskeletal disease were identified, none of which related to equine stress fractures. Eleven papers studied miRNA profiles in osteoporotic human patients with fractures, but differentially expressed miRNAs were not consistent between studies. MicroRNA target prediction programmes also produced conflicting results between studies. Exercise affected miRNA profiles in both horse and human studies (e.g., miR-21 was upregulated by endurance exercise and miR-125b was downregulated by exercise). MicroRNA profiling studies in horses continue to emerge, but as yet, no miRNA profile can reliably predict the occurrence of fractures. It is very important that future studies are well designed to mitigate the effects of variation in sample size, exercise and normalisation methods.
- repetitive load injury