MicroRNA let-7i is a promising serum biomarker for blast-induced traumatic brain injury

J Neurotrauma. 2012 May 1;29(7):1379-87. doi: 10.1089/neu.2011.2146. Epub 2012 Apr 13.


Blast-induced traumatic brain injury (TBI) is of significant concern in soldiers returning from the current conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan. Incidents of TBI have increased significantly in the current conflicts compared to previous wars, and a majority of these injuries are caused by improvised explosive devices. Currently, no specific technique or biomarker is available for diagnosing TBI when no obvious clinical symptoms are present. Micro-RNAs are small RNA (~ 22nts) molecules that are expressed endogenously and play an important role in regulating gene expression. MicroRNAs have emerged as novel serum diagnostic biomarkers for various diseases. In this study, we studied the effect of blast overpressure injury on the microRNA signatures in the serum of rats. Rats were exposed to three serial 120-kPa blast overpressure exposures through a shockwave tube. Blood and cerebrospinal fluid were collected at various time points after injury, and microRNA modulation was analyzed using real-time PCR. Five microRNAs were significantly modulated in the serum samples of these animals at three time points post-injury. Further, we also found that the levels of microRNA let-7i are also elevated in cerebrospinal fluid post-blast wave exposure. The presence of microRNA in both serum and cerebrospinal fluid immediately after injury makes microRNA let-7i an ideal candidate for further studies of biomarkers in TBI.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Biomarkers / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Blast Injuries / blood
  • Blast Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Blast Injuries / genetics*
  • Brain Injuries / blood
  • Brain Injuries / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Brain Injuries / diagnosis*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / biosynthesis
  • MicroRNAs / blood*
  • MicroRNAs / cerebrospinal fluid
  • Rats
  • Rats, Sprague-Dawley


  • Biomarkers
  • MIRNLET7 microRNA, rat
  • MicroRNAs