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Front Physiol. 2012 Dec 21;3:476. doi: 10.3389/fphys.2012.00476. eCollection 2012.

Circulating microRNAs: promising candidates serving as novel biomarkers of acute hepatitis.

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  • 1Laboratory of Molecular Hepatology, Institute for Pathology, University Hospital of Cologne Cologne, Germany.


Acute liver failure as life threatening condition comprises a difficult diagnostic situation to evaluate potential outcomes and therapeutic options. Thus, prognostic indicators are urgently needed for evaluation of progression of liver injury, clinical outcome, prognosis, and for therapeutic response. Recently, circulating microRNA, in particular miR-122, was described as a potential biomarker of acute liver injury after intoxication of mice. Circulating microRNA (miRNA) molecules are very stable and RNase-resistant due to protein aggregation and vesicle enclosure. Since miRNA species are known to be associated with chronic liver damage or with liver cancer, circulating miRNA patterns are suggested to serve also as reporters for progression of acute liver failure. miRNA profiling analyses using PCR arrays or next generation sequencing, may achieve identification of miRNA species that are linked to the rapid progression of acute liver injury, to the outcome of liver failure, or to the therapeutic response. Therefore, circulating miRNAs are promising, non-invasive biomarkers of future diagnostic approaches. However, normalisation of circulating miRNA levels is essential and further standardisation of miRNA quantification assays is needed.


acute liver failure; extracellular miRNA; miR-122; miRNA quantification; microRNA; spike-in RNA

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