Urinary Exosomal miRNA Signature in Type II Diabetic Nephropathy Patients

PLoS One. 2016 Mar 1;11(3):e0150154. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0150154. eCollection 2016.


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are short non-coding RNA species which are important post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression and play an important role in the pathogenesis of diabetic nephropathy. miRNAs are present in urine in a remarkably stable form packaged in extracellular vesicles, predominantly exosomes. In the present study, urinary exosomal miRNA profiling was conducted in urinary exosomes obtained from 8 healthy controls (C), 8 patients with type II diabetes (T2D) and 8 patients with type II diabetic nephropathy (DN) using Agilent´s miRNA microarrays. In total, the expression of 16 miRNA species was deregulated (>2-fold) in DN patients compared to healthy donors and T2D patients: the expression of 14 miRNAs (miR-320c, miR-6068, miR-1234-5p, miR-6133, miR-4270, miR-4739, miR-371b-5p, miR-638, miR-572, miR-1227-5p, miR-6126, miR-1915-5p, miR-4778-5p and miR-2861) was up-regulated whereas the expression of 2 miRNAs (miR-30d-5p and miR-30e-5p) was down-regulated. Most of the deregulated miRNAs are involved in progression of renal diseases. Deregulation of urinary exosomal miRNAs occurred in micro-albuminuric DN patients but not in normo-albuminuric DN patients. We used qRT-PCR based analysis of the most strongly up-regulated miRNAs in urinary exosomes from DN patients, miRNAs miR-320c and miR-6068. The correlation of miRNA expression and micro-albuminuria levels could be replicated in a confirmation cohort. In conclusion, urinary exosomal miRNA content is altered in type II diabetic patients with DN. Deregulated miR-320c, which might have an impact on the TGF-β-signaling pathway via targeting thrombospondin 1 (TSP-1) shows promise as a novel candidate marker for disease progression in type II DN that should be evaluated in future studies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Albuminuria / genetics
  • Albuminuria / metabolism*
  • Albuminuria / urine
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / genetics
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / metabolism*
  • Diabetes Mellitus, Type 2 / urine
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / genetics
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / metabolism*
  • Diabetic Nephropathies / urine
  • Exosomes / genetics
  • Exosomes / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / urine*
  • Middle Aged
  • Signal Transduction / physiology
  • Young Adult


  • MicroRNAs

Grant support

The funder, Translational Medicine & Clinical Pharmacology, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals Inc, provided support in the form of salaries for authors DD, CE, RS, PB, FW, MG, HZ, SSP, and RU, but did not have any additional role in the study design, data collection and analysis, decision to publish, or preparation of the manuscript. The specific roles of these authors are articulated in the ‘author contributions’ section.