Diagnostic tools for neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) currently involve subjective neuropsychological testing and specialized brain imaging techniques. While definitive diagnosis requires a pathological brain evaluation at autopsy, neurodegenerative changes are believed to begin years before the clinical presentation of cognitive decline. Therefore, there is an essential need for reliable biomarkers to aid in the early detection of disease in order to implement preventative strategies. microRNAs (miRNA) are small non-coding RNA species that are involved in post-transcriptional gene regulation. Expression levels of miRNAs have potential as diagnostic biomarkers as they are known to circulate and tissue specific profiles can be identified in a number of bodily fluids such as plasma, CSF and urine. Recent developments in deep sequencing technology present a viable approach to develop biomarker discovery pipelines in order to profile miRNA signatures in bodily fluids specific to neurodegenerative diseases. Here we review the potential use of miRNA deep sequencing in biomarker identification from biological fluids and its translation into clinical practice.
Keywords: Alzheimer's disease; biological fluids; deep sequencing; exosomes; microRNA.