- Serum microRNA-21 as marker for necroinflammation in hepatitis C patients with and without hepatocellular carcinoma (2011)
- Background: MicroRNA-21 (miR-21) is up-regulated in tumor tissue of patients with malignant diseases, including hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC). Elevated concentrations of miR-21 have also been found in sera or plasma from patients with malignancies, rendering it an interesting candidate as serum/plasma marker for malignancies. Here we correlated serum miR-21 levels with clinical parameters in patients with different stages of chronic hepatitis C virus infection (CHC) and CHC-associated HCC. Methodology/Principal Findings: 62 CHC patients, 29 patients with CHC and HCC and 19 healthy controls were prospectively enrolled. RNA was extracted from the sera and miR-21 as well as miR-16 levels were analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR; miR-21 levels (normalized by miR-16) were correlated with standard liver parameters, histological grading and staging of CHC. The data show that serum levels of miR-21 were elevated in patients with CHC compared to healthy controls (P<0.001); there was no difference between serum miR-21 in patients with CHC and CHC-associated HCC. Serum miR-21 levels correlated with histological activity index (HAI) in the liver (r = −0.494, P = 0.00002), alanine aminotransferase (ALT) (r = −0.309, P = 0.007), aspartate aminotransferase (r = −0.495, P = 0.000007), bilirubin (r = −0.362, P = 0.002), international normalized ratio (r = −0.338, P = 0.034) and γ-glutamyltransferase (r = −0.244, P = 0.034). Multivariate analysis revealed that ALT and miR-21 serum levels were independently associated with HAI. At a cut-off dCT of 1.96, miR-21 discriminated between minimal and mild-severe necroinflammation (AUC = 0.758) with a sensitivity of 53.3% and a specificity of 95.2%. Conclusions/Significance: The serum miR-21 level is a marker for necroinflammatory activity, but does not differ between patients with HCV and HCV-induced HCC.
- Differential Stability of Cell-Free Circulating microRNAs: Implications for Their Utilization as Biomarkers (2013)
- Background: MicroRNAs circulating in the blood, stabilized by complexation with proteins and/or additionally by encapsulation in lipid vesicles, are currently being evaluated as biomarkers. The consequences of their differential association with lipids/vesicles for their stability and use as biomarkers are largely unexplored and are subject of the present study. Methods: The levels of a set of selected microRNAs were determined by quantitative reverse-transcription PCR after extraction from sera or vesicle- and non-vesicle fractions prepared from sera. The stability of these microRNAs after incubation with RNase A or RNase inhibitor, an inhibitor of RNase A family enzymes was studied. Results: The levels of microRNA-1 and microRNA-122, but not those of microRNA-16, microRNA-21 and microRNA-142-3p, declined significantly during a 5-h incubation of the sera. RNase inhibitor prevented the loss of microRNAs in serum as well as the degradation of microRNA-122, a microRNA not expressed in blood cells, in whole blood. Stabilization of microRNA-122 was also achieved by hemolysis. Prolonged incubation of the sera led to enrichment of vesicle-associated relative to non-vesicle-associated microRNAs. Vesicle-associated microRNAs were more resistant to RNase A treatment than the respective microRNAs not associated with vesicles. Conclusions: Serum microRNAs showed differential stability upon prolonged incubation. RNase inhibitor might be useful to robustly preserve the pattern of cell-free circulating microRNAs. In the case of microRNAs not expressed in blood cells this can also be achieved by hemolysis. Vesicle-associated microRNAs appeared to be more stable than those not associated with vesicles, which might be useful to disclose additional biomarker properties of miRNAs.