Objective: Cardiac sarcoidosis is difficult to diagnose, often requiring expensive and inconvenient advanced imaging techniques. Circulating exosomes contain genetic material, such as microRNA (miRNA), that are derived from diseased tissues and may serve as potential disease-specific biomarkers. We thus sought to determine whether circulating exosome-derived miRNA expression patterns would distinguish cardiac sarcoidosis (CS) from acute myocardial infarction (AMI).
Methods: Plasma and serum samples conforming to CS, AMI or disease-free controls were procured from the Biologic Specimen and Data Repository Information Coordinating Center repository and National Jewish Health. Next generation sequencing (NGS) was performed on exosome-derived total RNA (n = 10 for each group), and miRNA expression levels were compared after normalization using housekeeping miRNA. Quality assurance measures excluded poor quality RNA samples. Differentially expressed (DE) miRNA patterns, based upon >2-fold change (p < 0.01), were established in CS compared to controls, and in CS compared to AMI. Relative expression of several DE-miRNA were validated by qRT-PCR.
Results: Despite the advanced age of the stored samples (~5-30 years), the quality of the exosome-derived miRNA was intact in ~88% of samples. Comparing plasma exosomal miRNA in CS versus controls, NGS yielded 18 DE transcripts (12 up-regulated, 6 down-regulated), including miRNA previously implicated in mechanisms of myocardial injury (miR-92, miR-21) and immune responses (miR-618, miR-27a). NGS further yielded 52 DE miRNA in serum exosomes from CS versus AMI: 5 up-regulated in CS; 47 up-regulated in AMI, including transcripts previously detected in AMI patients (miR-1-1, miR-133a, miR-208b, miR-423, miR-499). Five miRNAs with increased DE in CS included two isoforms of miR-624 and miR-144, previously reported as markers of cardiomyopathy.
Conclusions: MiRNA patterns of exosomes derived from CS and AMI patients are distinct, suggesting that circulating exosomal miRNA patterns could serve as disease biomarkers. Further studies are required to establish their specificity relative to other cardiac disorders.