Endogenous controls and microRNA profile in female patients with obstructive sleep apnea

Sci Rep. 2022 Feb 3;12(1):1916. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-05782-y.


Recent studies have evaluated the potential of circulating microRNAs (miRNAs) as valuable biomarkers for characterizing obstructive sleep apnea (OSA) in males. The potential use of miRNAs as clinical indicators in females is unknown. The objective is to identify a set of miRNAs to be used as endogenous controls (ECs) in female patients with OSA. Then, to analyze differences in the miRNA expression profile between patients with and without OSA. This observational, longitudinal study included 85 females with suspected OSA who underwent a polysomnography. OSA was defined as an apnea hypopnea index ≥ 15 events/h. The study population was stratified into 50 OSA patients and 38 non-OSA patients. Exploratory expression profiling of 188 miRNAs consistent and reliable in plasma was performed in a discovery cohort of 21 patients by TaqMan-Low-Density-Array (TLDA). The best ECs were identified by mean centre + standard deviation normalization and concordance correlation restricted normalization. Differentially expressed candidate miRNAs were selected for RT-qPCR validation in a validation cohort of 64 patients. Three circulating miRNAs (miR-30a-5p, miR-93-3p and miR-532-5p) were identified as most stable for use as ECs. Twenty-seven miRNA candidates were identified as potential biomarkers for OSA screening (p value < 0.025) in the TLDA cohort. However, validation cohort showed no differences in the circulating miRNA profile in female patients with and without OSA. We identified a set of ECs in females with OSA that may contribute to result homogeneity in determining circulating miRNAs. Exploratory analysis did not identify a significantly miRNA profile between female patients with and without OSA.

Publication types

  • Observational Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Circulating MicroRNA / blood
  • Circulating MicroRNA / genetics*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling*
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • MicroRNAs / blood
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Polysomnography
  • Sex Factors
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / blood
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / diagnosis
  • Sleep Apnea, Obstructive / genetics*
  • Transcriptome*


  • Circulating MicroRNA
  • MicroRNAs