Circulating microRNA-208b and microRNA-499 reflect myocardial damage in cardiovascular disease.
- Cardiovascular Research Unit
BACKGROUND: Small RNA molecules, called microRNAs, freely circulate in human plasma and correlate with varying pathologies. In this study, we explored their diagnostic potential in a selection of prevalent cardiovascular disorders. METHODS AND RESULTS: MicroRNAs were isolated from plasmas from well-characterized patients with varying degrees of cardiac damage: (1) acute myocardial infarction, (2) viral myocarditis, (3) diastolic dysfunction, and (4) acute heart failure. Plasma levels of selected microRNAs, including heart-associated (miR-1, -133a, -208b, and -499), fibrosis-associated (miR-21 and miR-29b), and leukocyte-associated (miR-146, -155, and -223) candidates, were subsequently assessed using real-time polymerase chain reaction. Strikingly, in plasma from acute myocardial infarction patients, cardiac myocyte-associated miR-208b and -499 were highly elevated, 1600-fold (P<0.005) and 100-fold (P<0.0005), respectively, as compared with control subjects. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis revealed an area under the curve of 0.94 (P<10(-10)) for miR-208b and 0.92 (P<10(-9)) for miR-499. Both microRNAs correlated with plasma troponin T, indicating release of microRNAs from injured cardiomyocytes. In viral myocarditis, we observed a milder but significant elevation of these microRNAs, 30-fold and 6-fold, respectively. Plasma levels of leukocyte-expressed microRNAs were not significantly increased in acute myocardial infarction or viral myocarditis patients, despite elevated white blood cell counts. In patients with acute heart failure, only miR-499 was significantly elevated (2-fold), whereas no significant changes in microRNAs studied could be observed in diastolic dysfunction. Remarkably, plasma microRNA levels were not affected by a wide range of clinical confounders, including age, sex, body mass index, kidney function, systolic blood pressure, and white blood cell count. CONCLUSIONS: Cardiac damage initiates the detectable release of cardiomyocyte-specific microRNAs-208b and -499 into the circulation.