Exosomal microRNA signatures in multiple sclerosis reflect disease status

Sci Rep. 2017 Oct 30;7(1):14293. doi: 10.1038/s41598-017-14301-3.


Multiple Sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory demyelinating disease of the central nervous system (CNS). There is currently no single definitive test for MS. Circulating exosomes represent promising candidate biomarkers for a host of human diseases. Exosomes contain RNA, DNA, and proteins, can cross the blood-brain barrier, and are secreted from almost all cell types including cells of the CNS. We hypothesized that serum exosomal miRNAs could present a useful blood-based assay for MS disease detection and monitoring. Exosome-associated microRNAs in serum samples from MS patients (n = 25) and matched healthy controls (n = 11) were profiled using small RNA next generation sequencing. We identified differentially expressed exosomal miRNAs in both relapsing-remitting MS (RRMS) (miR-15b-5p, miR-451a, miR-30b-5p, miR-342-3p) and progressive MS patient sera (miR-127-3p, miR-370-3p, miR-409-3p, miR-432-5p) in relation to controls. Critically, we identified a group of nine miRNAs (miR-15b-5p, miR-23a-3p, miR-223-3p, miR-374a-5p, miR-30b-5p, miR-433-3p, miR-485-3p, miR-342-3p, miR-432-5p) that distinguished relapsing-remitting from progressive disease. Eight out of nine miRNAs were validated in an independent group (n = 11) of progressive MS cases. This is the first demonstration that microRNAs associated with circulating exosomes are informative biomarkers not only for the diagnosis of MS, but in predicting disease subtype with a high degree of accuracy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Base Sequence
  • Central Nervous System / pathology
  • Exosomes / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation / genetics
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / blood*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Progressive / diagnosis*
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Chronic Progressive / genetics*
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / diagnosis*
  • Multiple Sclerosis, Relapsing-Remitting / genetics*
  • Sequence Analysis, RNA


  • MicroRNAs