Background: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short, noncoding RNAs with gene regulatory functions whose expression profiles may serve as disease biomarkers.
Objective: The objective of this study was to perform a comprehensive analysis of miRNA expression profiles in blood of patients with a clinically isolated syndrome (CIS) or relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) including next-generation sequencing (NGS).
Methods: miRNA expression was analyzed in whole blood samples from treatment-naïve patients with CIS (n = 25) or RRMS (n = 25) and 50 healthy controls by NGS, microarray analysis, and quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR).
Results: In patients with CIS/RRMS, NGS and microarray analysis identified 38 and eight significantly deregulated miRNAs, respectively. Three of these miRNAs were found to be significantly up- (hsa-miR-16-2-3p) or downregulated (hsa-miR-20a-5p, hsa-miR-7-1-3p) by both methods. Another five of the miRNAs significantly deregulated in the NGS screen showed the same direction of regulation in the microarray analysis. qRT-PCR confirmed the direction of regulation for all eight and was significant for three miRNAs.
Conclusions: This study identifies a set of miRNAs deregulated in CIS/RRMS and reconfirms the previously reported underexpression of hsa-miR-20a-5p in MS. hsa-miR-20a-5p and the other validated miRNAs may represent promising candidates for future evaluation as biomarkers for MS and could be of relevance in the pathophysiology of this disease.
Keywords: Multiple sclerosis; biomarker; clinically isolated syndrome; microRNAs; microarray; next-generation sequencing; real-time polymerase chain reaction.