MicroRNA Biomarkers and Platelet Reactivity: The Clot Thickens

Circ Res. 2017 Jan 20;120(2):418-435. doi: 10.1161/CIRCRESAHA.116.309303.


Over the last few years, several groups have evaluated the potential of microRNAs (miRNAs) as biomarkers for cardiometabolic disease. In this review, we discuss the emerging literature on the role of miRNAs and other small noncoding RNAs in platelets and in the circulation, and the potential use of miRNAs as biomarkers for platelet activation. Platelets are a major source of miRNAs, YRNAs, and circular RNAs. By harnessing multiomics approaches, we may gain valuable insights into their potential function. Because not all miRNAs are detectable in the circulation, we also created a gene ontology annotation for circulating miRNAs using the gene ontology term extracellular space as part of blood plasma. Finally, we share key insights for measuring circulating miRNAs. We propose ways to standardize miRNA measurements, in particular by using platelet-poor plasma to avoid confounding caused by residual platelets in plasma or by adding RNase inhibitors to serum to reduce degradation. This should enhance comparability of miRNA measurements across different cohorts. We provide recommendations for future miRNA biomarker studies, emphasizing the need for accurate interpretation within a biological and methodological context.

Keywords: acute coronary syndrome; biomarker; noncoding RNA; platelet; platelet inhibitor.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Blood Coagulation / physiology
  • Blood Platelets / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / blood*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • Platelet Activation / physiology*
  • RNA, Untranslated / blood
  • RNA, Untranslated / genetics
  • Thrombosis / blood*
  • Thrombosis / diagnosis
  • Thrombosis / genetics


  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Untranslated