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PLoS One. 2016 Aug 16;11(8):e0160808. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0160808. eCollection 2016.

Systematic Review of Micro-RNA Expression in Pre-Eclampsia Identifies a Number of Common Pathways Associated with the Disease.

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Institute of Cardiovascular and Medical Sciences, College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, University of Glasgow, Glasgow, United Kingdom.



Pre-eclampsia (PE) is a complex, multi-systemic condition of pregnancy which greatly impacts maternal and perinatal morbidity and mortality. MicroRNAs (miRs) are differentially expressed in PE and may be important in helping to understand the condition and its pathogenesis.


Case-control studies investigating expression of miRs in PE were collected through a systematic literature search. Data was extracted and compared from 58 studies to identify the most promising miRs associated with PE pathogenesis and identify areas of methodology which could account for often conflicting results.


Some of the most frequently differentially expressed miRs in PE include miR-210, miR-223 and miR-126/126* which associate strongly with the etiological domains of hypoxia, immunology and angiogenesis. Members of the miR-515 family belonging to the imprinted chromosome 19 miR cluster with putative roles in trophoblast invasion were also found to be differentially expressed. Certain miRs appear to associate with more severe forms of PE such as miR-210 and the immune-related miR-181a and miR-15 families. Patterns of miR expression may help pinpoint key pathways (e.g. IL-6/miR-223/STAT3) and aid in untangling the heterogeneous nature of PE. The detectable presence of many PE-associated miRs in antenatal circulatory samples suggests their usefulness as predictive biomarkers. Further progress in ascertaining the clinical value of miRs and in understanding how they might contribute to pathogenesis is predicated upon resolving current methodological challenges in studies. These include differences in diagnostic criteria, cohort characteristics, sampling technique, RNA isolation and platform-dependent variation in miR profiling.


Reviewing studies of PE-associated miRs has revealed their potential as informants of underlying target genes and pathways relating to PE pathogenesis. However, the incongruity in results across current studies hampers their capacity to be useful biomarkers of the condition.

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