Researchers at the INCLIVA Biomedical Research Institute in Valencia, Spain, together with collaborators, have demonstrated the presence of extracellular vesicles (EVs) in the urine of patients diagnosed with lupus and renal impairment (lupus nephritis) and shown that exosomes (a subset of EVs) in this urine contain unusually high levels of microRNA-146a (miR-146a) that may be diagnostic for this pathology. The work was originally published online on September 21, 2015 in the open-access journal PLOS ONE. This article was titled “Increased Urinary Exosomal MicroRNAs in Patients with Systemic Lupus Erythematosus." A related review article titled “Extracellular Vesicles as Biomarkers of Systemic Lupus Erythematosus,” was published online at about the same time in the open-access journal Disease Markers. Lupus (systemic lupus erythematosus or SLE) is a chronic autoimmune disease that can affect almost every organ of the body, joints, kidneys, heart, skin, blood vessels, lungs, etc., whose cause is unknown. It is a very heterogeneous disease, with symptoms that come and go in outbreaks, hence the complexity of diagnosis. To date, lupus has no single diagnostic technique that has become final. The diagnosis is mainly based on symptoms, clinical findings, and complementary laboratory tests. It is a disease that most often affects women, at a time of life in which they are fertile, between 20 and 40 years. According to the Spanish Society of Rheumatology, lupus currently affects about 40,000 people in Spain. Coordinated by the Scientific Director of the INCLIVA Research Institute, Josep Redon, M.D., Ph.D., the project has focused on lupus patients with renal impairment (lupus nephritis), as, in the kidney, microRNAs play an indispensable role in regulating the mechanisms of development and maintenance renal function.
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