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MicroRNAs as circulating biomarkers: Plasma or serum?

on the July 1, 2019

A qualitative study on rodents and humans


MicroRNAs are small non-coding RNAs gaining interest for their potential roles as reliable biomarkers for the diagnosis and therapeutics of numerous pathologies, ranging fromcancer to neurodegenerative or psychiatric disorders. Indeed,microRNAs are present in various accessible biofluids, including peripheral blood, and specific dysregulation of their expressionmay be associated

with these different pathological conditions.microRNAs can be isolated fromplasma or serumfor sequencing with commercial kits.

However, these two biofluidsmight exhibit some differences in theirmicroRNA contents, due notably to the coagulation process occurring during serumcollection. It remains unclear from previous studies and commercial recommendations which blood fraction is preferable.

Because of the small amount of circulating microRNAs in a given blood volume, this question appears crucial for qualitative and quantitative optimization of microRNA profiling, especially in animal models used for investigating the pathophysiological relevancy of this approach.

The "Team "Physiopathology of Motivation" therefore evaluated the efficiency of RNA isolation and microRNA levels from plasma and sera isolated from rats and humans, with a widely used extraction kit (QIAGEN miRNeasy), and assessedmicroRNA quality and quantity with high-throughput sequencing.

Fewer reads with length corresponding to non-miRNAs sequences were observed in plasma than in serum, both fromrats and humans. Moreover, rat plasma produced twice asmany aligned reads compared to sera, as well asmore aligned reads corresponding tomicroRNAs (84.6% against 38.7%), differences that were not find in human samples.

These results, therefore, clearly indicate that plasma should be preferred formiRNA investigations, particularly for translational studies. 



References : 
Plasma or serum? A qualitative study on rodents and humans using high-throughput microRNA sequencing for circulating biomarkers
Thibault Dufourd, Noemie Robil, David Mallet, Carole Carcenac, Sabrina Boulet, Sonia Brishoual, Emilie Rabois, Jean-Luc Houeto, Pierre de la Grange and Sebastien Carnicella
Biology Methods and Protocols, 2019, 1-10
doi: 10.1093/biomethods/bpz006


Updated on January 14, 2020

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