Stability of miRNA in human urine supports its biomarker potential

Biomark Med. 2013 Aug;7(4):623-31. doi: 10.2217/bmm.13.44.


Aim: miRNAs are showing utility as biomarkers in urologic disease, however, a rigorous evaluation of their stability in urine is lacking. Here, we evaluate the stability of miRNAs in urine under clinically relevant storage procedures.

Materials & methods: Eight healthy individuals provided clean catch urine samples that were stored at room temperature or at 4°C for 5 days, or subjected to ten freeze-thaw cycles at -80°C. For each condition, two miRNAs, miR-16 and miR-21, were quantitated by quantitative real-time PCR.

Results: All conditions demonstrated a surprising degree of stability of miRNAs in the urine: by the end of ten freeze-thaw cycles, 23-37% of the initial amount remained; over the 5-day period of storage at room temperature, 35% of the initial amount remained; and at 4°C, 42-56% of the initial amount remained. Both miRNAs also showed degradation at approximately the same rate.

Conclusion: miRNAs are relatively stable in urine under a variety of storage conditions, which supports their utility as urinary biomarkers.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers / chemistry
  • Biomarkers / metabolism
  • Biomarkers / urine
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Kidney Diseases / urine
  • Limit of Detection
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / chemistry*
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism
  • MicroRNAs / urine*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nucleic Acid Amplification Techniques
  • RNA Stability*
  • Specimen Handling
  • Trypsin / metabolism


  • Biomarkers
  • MicroRNAs
  • Trypsin