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Mol Vis. 2013;19:430-40. Epub 2013 Feb 20.

MicroRNAs in vitreus humor from patients with ocular diseases.

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Department Gian Filippo Ingrassia, Unità di BioMedicina Molecolare Genomica e dei Sistemi Complessi, Genetica, Biologia Computazionale, Università di Catania, Catania, Italy.



Based on evidence that microRNAs (miRNAs) are found in many biologic fluids (e.g., urine, saliva, pleural fluid), we sought to detect the presence of miRNAs and analyze their profile in vitreous humor (VH) from patients affected by various ocular diseases.


MiRNAs were purified from VH samples taken during vitrectomy, by using the Qiagen miRNeasy Mini Kit. The expression profile on 745 miRNAs was performed by using TaqMan Low Density Array. Single TaqMan expression assays were performed on 18 VH samples (six each from patients with choroidal melanomas, retinal detachment, or macular hole) for miRNAs commonly expressed in serum or retinal cells: let-7b, miR-21, miR-26a, miR-146a, miR-199-3p, miR-210, miR-374a*, miR-532-5p. RNA extracted from serum of six healthy donors or from formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded samples of choroidal melanocytes from four uveal melanomas (epithelioid cells) and from three unaffected eyes were used as controls.


We identified the presence of 94 circulating small RNAs in the vitreous, some of which (miR-9, miR-9*, miR-125a-3p, miR-184, miR-211, miR-214, miR-302c, miR-452, miR-628, miR-639) are particularly abundant in the VH but downrepresented or not detectable in serum. MiR-146a and miR-26a were overexpressed more than threefold in VH from patients with uveal melanomas compared to the other pathological groups (Wilcoxon signed-rank test, p value < 0.05).


Our experimental data suggest that a specific set of circulating miRNAs is secreted in the vitreous, which is quite different from the miRNA pattern in serum, and that the quantity of vitreal miRNAs could change, depending on the pathologies of the eye.

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