Pregnancy-associated microRNAs in plasma as potential molecular markers of ectopic pregnancy

Fertil Steril. 2015 May;103(5):1202-8.e1. doi: 10.1016/j.fertnstert.2015.01.041. Epub 2015 Mar 13.


Objective: To investigate cell-free pregnancy-associated microRNAs as molecular markers for the diagnosis of ectopic pregnancy.

Design: Laboratory study using human plasma samples.

Setting: Research unit in a university hospital.

Patient(s): Plasma samples from 18 women with ectopic pregnancies (EP group), 12 women with spontaneous abortion (SA group), and 26 normal women with singleton pregnancies (NP group).

Intervention(s): Total RNAs containing small RNA molecules extracted from 1.2 mL of plasma.

Main outcome measure(s): Plasma concentrations of cell-free microRNAs measured by quantitative real-time reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction.

Result(s): Plasma concentrations of cell-free pregnancy-associated microRNAs (miR-323-3p, miR-515-3p, miR-517a, miR-517c, and miR-518b) and serum concentration of human chorionic gonadotropin (hCG) were confirmed to have statistically significantly different plasma or serum concentrations in women with EP, SA, or NP. There was no statistically significant difference in the plasma concentrations of cell-free miR-21 between the three groups. By correlation coefficient analysis, no relationship was detected between serum hCG levels and plasma cell-free miR-517c, miR-515-3p, miR-517a, miR-518b, miR-323-3p, or miR-21 levels. Plasma concentrations of cell-free miR-517a could distinguish EP/SA from NP, yielding an area under the curve of 0.9654 (95% confidence interval, 0.9172-1.0). Plasma concentrations of cell-free miR-323-3p could distinguish EP from SA, yielding an area under the curve of 0.7454 (95% confidence interval, 0.5558-0.9349).

Conclusion(s): Cell-free pregnancy-associated microRNAs have potential as molecular markers of ectopic pregnancy.

Keywords: Biomarker; ectopic pregnancy; plasma; pregnancy-associated microRNA.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Abortion, Spontaneous / blood
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / diagnosis
  • Abortion, Spontaneous / genetics
  • Adult
  • Area Under Curve
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Genetic Markers
  • Genetic Testing* / methods
  • Hospitals, University
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / blood
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Pregnancy
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / blood
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / diagnosis*
  • Pregnancy, Ectopic / genetics*
  • ROC Curve
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Genetic Markers
  • MicroRNAs