Rationale: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been implicated in the epigenetic regulation of key metabolic, inflammatory, and antiangiogenic pathways in type 2 diabetes (DM) and may contribute to common disease complications.
Objective: In this study, we explore plasma miRNA profiles in patients with DM.
Methods and results: Total RNA was extracted from plasma samples of the prospective population-based Bruneck study. A total of 13 candidate miRNAs identified by microarray screening and miRNA network inference were quantified by quantitative PCR in all diabetic patients of the Bruneck study and age- and sex-matched controls (1995 evaluation, n=80 each). Quantitative PCR assessment revealed lower plasma levels of miR-20b, miR-21, miR-24, miR-15a, miR-126, miR-191, miR-197, miR-223, miR-320, and miR-486 in prevalent DM, but a modest increase of miR-28-3p. Findings emerged as robust in multivariable analysis and were independent of the standardization procedure applied. For endothelial miR-126, results were confirmed in the entire Bruneck cohort (n=822) in univariate (odds ratio [95% confidence interval], 0.38 [0.26 to 0.55]; P=2.72 × 10(-7)) and multivariate analyses (0.57 [0.37 to 0.86]; P=0.0082). Importantly, reduced miR-15a, miR-29b, miR-126, miR-223, and elevated miR-28-3p levels antedated the manifestation of disease. Most differences in miRNA levels were replicated in plasma obtained from hyperglycemic Lep(ob) mice. High glucose concentrations reduced the miR-126 content of endothelial apoptotic bodies. Similarly in patients with DM, the reduction of miR-126 was confined to circulating vesicles in plasma.
Conclusions: We reveal a plasma miRNA signature for DM that includes loss of endothelial miR-126. These findings might explain the impaired peripheral angiogenic signaling in patients with DM.