Using next-generation sequencing, researcher have shown that circulating serum exosome in patients with relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) exhibit a distinct pattern of micro-RNA that may be used as a biomarker to distinguish and monitor MS relapse. In an article published on April 15, 2017 in Annals of Neurology, researchers from the Medical University of Lodz in Lodz, Poland, show that, of 15 different classes of transcripts detected, 4 circulating exosomal sequences within the miRNA category were differentially expressed in RRMS patients versus healthy controls. These were hsa-miR-122-5p, hsa-miR-196b-5p, hsa-miR-301a-3p, and hsa-miR-532-5p. Serum exosomal expression of these miRNAs was significantly decreased during relapse in RRMS. These miRNAs were also decreased in patients with a gadolinium enhancement on brain magnetic resonance imaging. In vitro secretion of these miRNA by peripheral blood mononuclear cells was also significantly impaired in RRMS. Specifically, the researchers used next-generation sequencing to define the global RNA profile of serum exoxomes in 19 RRMS patients (9 in relapse, 10 in remission) and 9 healthy controls. The scientists analyzed 5 million reads and over 50,000 transcripts per sample, including a detailed analysis of microRNA (miRNA) differentially expressed in RRMS. The authors conclude that circulating exosomes have a distinct RNA profile in RRMS. Because putative targets for these miRNAs include the signal transducer and activator of transcription 3 and the cell cycle regulator aryl hydrocarbon receptor, the data suggest a disturbed cell-to-cell communication in this disease. Thus, exosomal miRNA might represent a useful biomarker to distinguish MS relapse, they conclude.
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