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BMC Genomics. 2019 Feb 15;20(1):141. doi: 10.1186/s12864-019-5515-6.

Alterations in tissue microRNA after heat stress in the conscious rat: potential biomarkers of organ-specific injury.

Author information

1
Excet, Inc., Fort Detrick, MD, 21702-5010, USA.
2
U.S. Army Center for Environmental Health Research, Fort Detrick, Maryland, MD, 21702-5010, USA.
3
Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education, Fort Detrick, MD, 21702-5010, USA.
4
U.S. Army Center for Environmental Health Research, Fort Detrick, Maryland, MD, 21702-5010, USA. jonathan.d.stallings.mil@mail.mil.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

Heat illness remains a significant cause of morbidity in susceptible populations. Recent research elucidating the cellular mechanism of heat stress leading to heat illness may provide information to develop better therapeutic interventions, risk assessment strategies, and early biomarkers of organ damage. microRNA (miRNA) are promising candidates for therapeutic targets and biomarkers for a variety of clinical conditions since there is the potential for high specificity for individual tissues and unique cellular functions. The objective of this study was to identify differentially expressed microRNAs and their putative mRNA targets in the heart, liver, kidney, and lung in rats at three time points: during heat stress (i.e., when core temperature reached 41.8 °C), or following a 24 or 48 h recovery period.

RESULTS:

Rats did not show histological evidence of tissue pathology until 48 h after heat stress, with 3 out of 6 rats showing cardiac inflammation and renal proteinosis at 48 h. The three rats with cardiac and renal pathology had 86, 7, 159, and 37 differentially expressed miRNA in the heart, liver, kidney, or lung, respectively compared to non-heat stressed control animals. During heat stress one differentially expressed miRNA was found in the liver and five in the lung, with no other modulated miRNA after 24 h or 48 h in animals with no evidence of organ injury. Pathway enrichment analysis revealed enrichment in functional pathways associated with heat stress, with the greatest effects observed in animals with histological evidence of cardiac and renal damage at 48 h. Inhibiting miR-21 in cultured cardiomyocytes increased the percent apoptotic cells five hours after heat stress from 70.9 ± 0.8 to 84.8 ± 2.2%.

CONCLUSIONS:

Global microRNA and transcriptomics analysis suggested that perturbed miRNA due to heat stress are involved in biological pathways related to organ injury, energy metabolism, the unfolded protein response, and cellular signaling. These miRNA may serve as biomarkers of organ injury and potential pharmacological targets for preventing heat illness or organ injury.

KEYWORDS:

Biomarker; Heat shock; Heat stress; Transcriptomics; miRNA

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