Comprehensive microRNA profiling in acetaminophen toxicity identifies novel circulating biomarkers for human liver and kidney injury

Sci Rep. 2015 Oct 22;5:15501. doi: 10.1038/srep15501.


Our objective was to identify microRNA (miRNA) biomarkers of drug-induced liver and kidney injury by profiling the circulating miRNome in patients with acetaminophen overdose. Plasma miRNAs were quantified in age- and sex-matched overdose patients with (N = 27) and without (N = 27) organ injury (APAP-TOX and APAP-no TOX, respectively). Classifier miRNAs were tested in a separate cohort (N = 81). miRNA specificity was determined in non-acetaminophen liver injury and murine models. Sensitivity was tested by stratification of patients at hospital presentation (N = 67). From 1809 miRNAs, 75 were 3-fold or more increased and 46 were 3-fold or more decreased with APAP-TOX. A 16 miRNA classifier model accurately diagnosed APAP-TOX in the test cohort. In humans, the miRNAs with the largest increase (miR-122-5p, miR-885-5p, miR-151a-3p) and the highest rank in the classifier model (miR-382-5p) accurately reported non-acetaminophen liver injury and were unaffected by kidney injury. miR-122-5p was more sensitive than ALT for reporting liver injury at hospital presentation, especially combined with miR-483-3p. A miRNA panel was associated with human kidney dysfunction. In mice, miR-122-5p, miR-151a-3p and miR-382-5p specifically reported APAP toxicity - being unaffected by drug-induced kidney injury. Profiling of acetaminophen toxicity identified multiple miRNAs that report acute liver injury and potential biomarkers of drug-induced kidney injury.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Acetaminophen / adverse effects*
  • Acetaminophen / therapeutic use
  • Acute Kidney Injury / blood*
  • Acute Kidney Injury / chemically induced
  • Alanine Transaminase / blood
  • Animals
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / blood*
  • Chemical and Drug Induced Liver Injury / genetics
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation / drug effects
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • MicroRNAs / blood*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics


  • Biomarkers
  • MicroRNAs
  • Acetaminophen
  • Alanine Transaminase