Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC), and collaborators, have identified 20 potentially useful microRNA biomarkers for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) in their analysis of plasma fractions, enriched in exosomes by differential centrifugation, from 35 AD patients and 35 controls. Seven of these miRNAs were highly informative in a machine learning model for predicting AD status of individual samples with 83–89% accuracy. The researchers noted that perhaps the most interesting single miRNA was miR-342-3p, which was (a) expressed in the AD group at about 60% of control levels, (b) highly correlated with several of the other miRNAs that were significantly down-regulated in AD, and (c) also reported to be down-regulated in AD in two previous studies. The miRNAs were analyzed by expression measurement using Illumina deep sequencing technology. The scientists said that their findings warrant replication and follow-up with a larger cohort of patients and controls who have been carefully characterized in terms of cognitive and imaging data, other biomarkers (e.g., CSF amyloid and tau levels) and risk factors (e.g., apoE4 status), and who are sampled repeatedly over time. They further noted their belief that integrating miRNA expression data with other data is likely to provide informative and robust biomarkers in Alzheimer disease. This work was published on October 1, 2015 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE. The article is titled “Plasma Exosomal miRNAs in Persons with and without Alzheimer Disease: Altered Expression and Prospects for Biomarkers.” This BioQuick summary was written by Editor & Publisher Michael D. O’Nell. This research has also been reported by Genome Web (see link below). The image shows exsomes released by a cell.
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