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MicroRNA fingerprints in serum and whole blood of sarcoid‐affected horses as potential non‐invasive diagnostic biomarkers

Unger, Lucia, Gerber, Vinzenz, Pacholewska, Alicja, Leeb, Tosso, Jagannathan, Vidhya
Veterinary and comparative oncology 2019 v.17 no.1 pp. 107-117
algorithms, biomarkers, blood serum, gene expression regulation, hemolysis, high-throughput nucleotide sequencing, horses, humans, leukocyte count, microRNA, prediction, sarcoid
Serum and whole blood microRNA (miRNA) fingerprints have been proposed as a new class of non‐invasive human cancer biomarkers. In this study, we compared equine sarcoid (ES) disease‐specific serum and whole blood miRNA fingerprints and correlated them to miRNA expression in sarcoid tissue. After high throughput sequencing, miRNA differential expression analysis between six ES‐affected and five control horses was carried out in serum and whole blood using a DESeq algorithm, accounting for the influence of hemolysis and the white blood cell count. Target gene, pathway prediction and enrichment analyses were conducted using TarBase, mirPath and GeneCodis. After exclusion of 4 hemolyzed out of a total of 11 serum samples, 9 miRNAs were found to be differentially expressed in serum of ES vs control horses. In whole blood, all 11 samples showed normal white blood cell counts and 19 miRNAs were found to be differentially expressed. A total of 2/9 serum and 7/19 whole blood differentially expressed miRNAs were also highly expressed at the tissue level and their predicted target genes were associated with cancer pathways. Serum and whole blood miRNA expression allowed discrimination between ES and control horses and merits further validation in a larger study cohort. The use of whole blood might be superior because it has higher miRNA content and is less influenced by pre‐analytical variables compared to serum. Concurrent dysregulation of single miRNAs in tissue and blood suggests a possible biological function of circulating miRNAs.