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PLoS One. 2012;7(10):e48366. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0048366. Epub 2012 Oct 31.

Comprehensive miRNA expression analysis in peripheral blood can diagnose liver disease.

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Department of Hepatology, Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka City University, Osaka, Japan.



miRNAs circulating in the blood in a cell-free form have been acknowledged for their potential as readily accessible disease markers. Presently, histological examination is the golden standard for diagnosing and grading liver disease, therefore non-invasive options are desirable. Here, we investigated if miRNA expression profile in exosome rich fractionated serum could be useful for determining the disease parameters in patients with chronic hepatitis C (CHC).


Exosome rich fractionated RNA was extracted from the serum of 64 CHC and 24 controls with normal liver (NL). Extracted RNA was subjected to miRNA profiling by microarray and real-time qPCR analysis. The miRNA expression profiles from 4 chronic hepatitis B (CHB) and 12 non alcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH) patients were also established. The resulting miRNA expression was compared to the stage or grade of CHC determined by blood examination and histological inspection.


miRNAs implicated in chronic liver disease and inflammation showed expression profiles that differed from those in NL and varied among the types and grades of liver diseases. Using the expression patterns of nine miRNAs, we classified CHC and NL with 96.59% accuracy. Additionally, we could link miRNA expression pattern with liver fibrosis stage and grade of liver inflammation in CHC. In particular, the miRNA expression pattern for early fibrotic stage differed greatly from that observed in high inflammation grades.


We demonstrated that miRNA expression pattern in exosome rich fractionated serum shows a high potential as a biomarker for diagnosing the grade and stage of liver diseases.

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