Plasma microRNAs as biomarkers for myotonic dystrophy type 1

Neuromuscul Disord. 2014 Jun;24(6):509-15. doi: 10.1016/j.nmd.2014.02.005. Epub 2014 Feb 18.


Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) lacks non-invasive and easy to measure biomarkers, still largely relying on semi-quantitative tests for diagnostic and prognostic purposes. Muscle biopsies provide valuable data, but their use is limited by their invasiveness. microRNA (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs regulating gene expression that are also present in biological fluids and may serve as diseases biomarkers. Thus, we tested plasma miRNAs in the blood of 36 DM1 patients and 36 controls. First, a wide miRNA panel was profiled in a patient subset, followed by validation using all recruited subjects. We identified a signature of nine deregulated miRNAs in DM1 patients: eight miRNAs were increased (miR-133a, miR-193b, miR-191, miR-140-3p, miR-454, miR-574, miR-885-5p, miR-886-3p) and one (miR-27b) was decreased. Next, the levels of these miRNAs were used to calculate a "DM1-miRNAs score". We found that both miR-133a levels and DM1-miRNAs score discriminated DM1 from controls significantly and Receiver-Operator Characteristic curves displayed an area under the curve of 0.94 and 0.97, respectively. Interestingly, both miR-133a levels and DM1-miRNAs score displayed an inverse correlation with skeletal muscle strength and displayed higher values in more compromised patients. In conclusion, we identified a characteristic plasma miRNA signature of DM1. Although preliminary, this study indicates miRNAs as potential DM1 humoral biomarkers.

Keywords: Biomarker; Myotonic dystrophy; Patients; Plasma; microRNA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / blood*
  • Middle Aged
  • Myotonic Dystrophy / blood
  • Myotonic Dystrophy / genetics*
  • ROC Curve


  • Biomarkers
  • MicroRNAs