Evaluation of several methodological challenges in circulating miRNA qPCR studies in patients with head and neck cancer.
ABSTRACT: Circulating microRNAs (ci-miRNAs) in blood have emerged as promising diagnostic, prognostic and predictive biomarkers in cancer. Many clinical studies currently incorporate studies that assess ci-miRNAs. Validation of the clinical significance of candidate biomarker miRNAs has proven to be difficult, potentially resulting from vast discrepancies in the detection methodology as well as biological variability. In the current study, the influence of several methodological factors on ci-miRNA detection was evaluated as well as short-term biological variability in patients with head and neck cancer. RNA was isolated from 124 serum and plasma samples originating from patients with head and neck cancer and healthy volunteers. The miRNA levels were measured using RT-qPCR and the influence of pre-analytical factors, different normalization strategies and temporal reproducibility was assessed. RNA carriers improved ci-miRNA detection in serum and plasma specimens. A prolonged pre-processing time correlated with an increased hemolytic index in serum samples only. Hemolysis differentially affected the detection of individual miRNAs. Optimal normalization was achieved using the averaged detection values of spike-in cel-miR-39-3p and endogenous miR-16-5p. Comparing biological replicates from patients with head and neck cancer, the intra-individual miRNA levels were relatively stable (average interval 7 days). Differences in the ci-miRNA detection methodology and limitations of currently used technologies can greatly affect the results and may explain inconsistent outcomes between studies. Prior to the implementation of ci-miRNAs as useful clinical biomarkers, further advances in the standardization of the detection methodology and reduction of technical variability are needed.
Project description:Background Circulating microRNAs (miRNAs) are potential molecular biomarkers for cancer detection; however, little is known about their prognostic role in head and neck cancer. This current study is aimed at evaluating the role of novel miRNAs in the survival of head and neck cancer patients. Materials and Methods We performed a systematic literature search using online databases for articles published between December 2006 and February 2019. A meta-analysis was conducted to assess the correlation between miRNA expressions and overall survival (OS) among the selected head and neck cancer studies. After multilevel screening by reviewers, meta-analysis was performed using hazard ratios (HR) and associated 95% confidence interval (CI) of survival to calculate a pooled effect size. Result A total of 1577 patients across 13 studies were included in the literature review, with 18 miRNAs upregulated and 4 miRNAs downregulated predicting a poor overall survival. The forest plot generated using cumulated survival data resulted in a pooled HR value of 2.943 (95% CI: 2.394-3.618) indicating a strong association of dysregulated miRNA expression with a poor outcome. Only 2 miRNAs—low levels of miR-9 and high levels of miR-483-5p—were observed in two studies, both showing a significant association with overall cancer survival. Conclusion To our knowledge, this is the first comprehensive systematic review and meta-analysis that examines the prognostic role of circulating miRNAs from blood in head and neck cancer patients. The combined effect estimates a HR across multiple studies and also supports the previous individual findings that an alteration in miRNA expression is highly associated with poor prognosis. This has the potential to use serum and/or plasma miRNAs as biomarkers and become novel tools for predicting the prognosis of head and neck cancer patients in the near future.
Project description:Extracellular microRNAs (miRNAs) are under investigation as minimally-invasive biomarkers for a wide range of disease conditions. We have recently shown in a mouse model of the progressive muscle-wasting condition Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) that a set of highly elevated serum miRNAs reflects the regenerative status of muscle. These miRNAs are promising biomarkers for monitoring DMD disease progression and the response to experimental therapies. The gold standard miRNA detection methodology is Reverse Transcriptase-quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-qPCR), which typically exhibits high sensitivity and wide dynamic range. Accurate determination of miRNA levels is affected by RT-qPCR normalization method and therefore selection of the optimal strategy is of critical importance. Serum miRNA abundance was measured by RT-qPCR array in 14 week old mice, and by individual RT-qPCR assays in a time course experiment spanning 48 weeks. Here we utilize these two datasets to assess the validity of three miRNA normalization strategies (a) normalization to the average of all Cq values from array experiments, (b) normalization to a stably expressed endogenous reference miRNA, and (c) normalization to an external spike-in synthetic oligonucleotide. Normalization approaches based on endogenous control miRNAs result in an under-estimation of miRNA levels by a factor of ?2. An increase in total RNA and total miRNA was observed in dystrophic serum which may account for this systematic bias. We conclude that the optimal strategy for this model system is to normalize to a synthetic spike-in control oligonucleotide.
Project description:Circulating microRNAs that are associated with specific diseases have garnered much attention for use in diagnostic assays. However, detection of disease-associated miRNA can be affected by several factors such as release of contaminating cellular miRNA during sample collection, variations due to amplification of transcript for detection, or controls used for normalization for accurate quantitation. We analyzed circulating miRNA in serum and plasma samples obtained concurrently from 28 patients, using a Nanostring quantitative assay platform. Total RNA concentration ranged from 32-125 ?g/ml from serum and 30-220 ?g/ml from plasma. Of 798 miRNAs, 371 miRNAs were not detected in either serum or plasma samples. 427 were detected in either serum or plasma but not both, whereas 151 miRNA were detected in both serum and plasma samples. The diversity of miRNA detected was greater in plasma than in serum samples. In serum samples, the number of detected miRNA ranged from 3 to 82 with a median of 17, whereas in plasma samples, the number of miRNA detected ranged from 25 to 221 with a median of 91. Several miRNA such as miR451a, miR 16-5p, miR-223-3p, and mir25-3p were highly abundant and differentially expressed between serum and plasma. The detection of endogenous and exogenous control miRNAs varied in serum and plasma, with higher levels observed in plasma. Gene expression stability identified candidate invariant microRNA that were highly stable across all samples, and could be used for normalization. In conclusion, there are significant differences in both the number of miRNA detected and the amount of miRNA detected between serum and plasma. Normalization using miRNA with constant expression is essential to minimize the impact of technical variations. Given the challenges involved, ideal candidates for blood based biomarkers would be those that are indifferent to type of body fluid, are detectable and can be reliably quantitated.
Project description:MicroRNA (miRNA) levels in serum have recently emerged as potential novel biomarkers for various diseases. miRNAs are routinely measured by standard quantitative real-time PCR (qPCR); however, the high sensitivity of qPCR demands appropriate normalization to correct for nonbiological variation. Presently, RNU6B (U6) is used for data normalization of circulating miRNAs in many studies. However, it was suggested that serum levels of U6 themselves might differ between individuals. Therefore, no consensus has been reached on the best normalization strategy in 'circulating miRNA'. We analyzed U6 levels as well as levels of spiked-in SV40-RNA in sera of 44 healthy volunteers, 203 intensive care unit patients and 64 patients with liver fibrosis. Levels of U6 demonstrated a high variability in sera of healthy donors, patients with critical illness and liver fibrosis. This high variability could also be confirmed in sera of mice after the cecal ligation and puncture procedure. Most importantly, levels of circulating U6 were significantly upregulated in sera of patients with critical illness and sepsis compared with controls and correlated with established markers of inflammation. In patients with liver fibrosis, U6 levels were significantly downregulated. In contrast, levels of spiked-in SV40 displayed a significantly higher stability both in human cohorts (healthy, critical illness, liver fibrosis) and in mice. Thus, we conclude that U6 levels in the serum are dysregulated in a disease-specific manner. Therefore, U6 should not be used for data normalization of circulating miRNAs in inflammatory diseases and previous studies using this approach should be interpreted with caution. Further studies are warranted to identify specific regulatory processes of U6 levels in sepsis and liver fibrosis.
Project description:BACKGROUND:The measurement of circulating miRNAs has proven to be a powerful biomarker tool for several disease processes. Current protocols for the detection of miRNAs usually involve an RNA extraction step, requiring a substantial volume of patient serum or plasma to obtain sufficient input material. OBJECTIVE:Here, we describe a novel methodology that allows detection of a large number of miRNAs from a small volume of serum or plasma without the need for RNA extraction. METHODS:Three ?l of serum or plasma was subjected to three cycles of high and low temperatures (heat/freeze cycles) followed by miRNA arrays. RESULTS:Our results indicate that miRNA detection following this process is highly reproducible when comparing multiple samples from the same subject. Moreover, this protocol increases the reproducibility of miRNA detection in samples that were previously subjected to multiple freeze-thaw cycles. Importantly, the detection of miRNAs from serum vs. plasma following heat/freeze cycling are highly comparable, indicating that this heat/freeze process effectively eliminates differences in detection between serum and plasma samples that have been reported using other sample preparation methodologies. CONCLUSION:We propose that this method is a potent alternative to current RNA extraction protocols, substantially reducing the amount of sample necessary for miRNA detection while simultaneously improving miRNA detection and reproducibility.
Project description:Second primary tumor (SPT) and/or recurrence negatively impact the prognosis of patients with curatively treated early-stage head and neck cancer. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play important roles in cancer development. We explored whether the variations of miRNA-related pathway were associated with the risk of SPT/recurrence in patients with early-stage head and neck cancer. This study includes 150 early-stage head and neck cancer patients with SPT/recurrence and 300 patients without SPT/recurrence. Two hundred and thirty-five tagging and potentially functional single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) were genotyped from eight miRNA biogenesis pathway genes and 135 miRNA-targeted genes. Eighteen miRNA-related SNPs were significantly associated with the risk of SPT/recurrence. The most significant SNP was rs3747238, a miRNA-binding site SNP in SMC1B. The variant homozygous genotype of this SNP was associated with a 1.74-fold increased risk [95% confidence interval (CI) 1.19-2.54; P = 0.004]. Cumulative effect analysis showed joint effects for the number of unfavorable genotype in patients. Survival tree analysis further identified the high-order gene-gene interactions and categorized the study subjects into low-, medium- and high-risk groups. Patients in the high-risk group had a 4.84-fold increased risk (95% CI: 3.11-7.51; P = 2.45 × 10(-12)) and a shorter event-free median survival time of 37.9 months (log rank P = 2.28 × 10(-13)). Our results suggested that miRNA-related genetic polymorphisms may be used individually and jointly to predict the risk of SPT/recurrence of early-stage head and neck cancer patients.
Project description:Caerulein-induced acute pancreatitis accelerates the progression of pancreatic intraepithelial neoplasia (PanIN) lesions in a pancreas-specific KrasG12D mouse model. The purpose of this study was to explore whether serum microRNAs (miRNAs) can serve as sensitive biomarkers to detect occult PanIN in the setting of acute pancreatitis. Serum miRNA profiles were quantified by an array-based method and normalized by both Variance Stabilization Normalization (VSN) and invariant methods. Individual miRNAs were validated by TaqMan real-time PCR with synthetic spike-in C. elegans miRNAs as external controls. Serum miRNA profiles distinguished KrasG12D mice with pancreatitis from wild-type mice without pancreatitis, but failed to differentiate KrasG12D mice with pancreatitis from wild-type mice with pancreatitis. Most individual miRNAs that increased in KrasG12D mice with pancreatitis were not significantly different between KrasG12D mice without pancreatitis and wild-type mice without pancreatitis. Mechanistically, Gene Set Enrichment Analysis (GSEA) of the mRNA array data and immunohistochemical assays showed that caerulein-induced acute pancreatitis involved acinar cell loss and immune cell infiltration, which might contribute to serum miRNA profile changes. This study highlighted the challenges in using sensitive serum miRNA biomarker screening for the early detection of pancreatic malignancies during acute pancreatitis.
Project description:MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are recently discovered small non-coding RNAs and can serve as serum biomarkers for disease diagnosis and prognoses. Lack of reliable serum miRNA endogenous references for normalization in miRNA gene expression makes single miRNA assays inaccurate. Using TaqMan® real-time PCR miRNA arrays with a global gene expression normalization strategy, we have analyzed serum miRNA expression profiles of 20 female mice of NOD/ShiLtJ (n = 8), NOR/LtJ (n = 6), and C57BL/6J (n = 6) at different ages and disease conditions. We identified five miRNAs, miR-146a, miR-16, miR-195, miR-30e and miR-744, to be stably expressed in all strains, which could serve as mouse serum miRNA endogenous references for single assay experiments.
Project description:BACKGROUND: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small endogenous ssRNAs that regulate target gene expression post-transcriptionally through the RNAi pathway. A critical pre-processing procedure for detecting differentially expressed miRNAs is normalization, aiming at removing the between-array systematic bias. Most normalization methods adopted for miRNA data are the same methods used to normalize mRNA data; but miRNA data are very different from mRNA data mainly because of possibly larger proportion of differentially expressed miRNA probes, and much larger percentage of left-censored miRNA probes below detection limit (DL). Taking the unique characteristics of miRNA data into account, we present a hierarchical Bayesian approach that integrates normalization, missing data imputation, and feature selection in the same model. RESULTS: Results from both simulation and real data seem to suggest the superiority of performance of Bayesian method over other widely used normalization methods in detecting truly differentially expressed miRNAs. In addition, our findings clearly demonstrate the necessity of miRNA data normalization, and the robustness of our Bayesian approach against the violation of standard assumptions adopted in mRNA normalization methods. CONCLUSION: Our study indicates that normalization procedures can have a profound impact on the detection of truly differentially expressed miRNAs. Although the proposed Bayesian method was formulated to handle normalization issues in miRNA data, we expect that biomarker discovery with other high-dimensional profiling techniques where there are a significant proportion of left-censored data points (e.g., proteomics) might also benefit from this approach.
Project description:Circulating miRNAs are promising biomarkers in oncology but have not yet been implemented in the clinic given the lack of concordance across studies. In order to increase the cross-studies reliability, we attempted to reduce and to control the circulating miRNA expression variability between patients. First, to maximize profiling signals and to reduce miRNA expression variability, three isolation kits were compared and the NucleoSpin(®) kit provided higher miRNA concentrations than the other widely used kits. Second, to control inter-sample variability during the profiling step, the exogenous miRNAs normalization method commonly used for RT-qPCR validation step was adapted to microarray experiments. Importantly, exogenous miRNAs presented two-fold lower inter-sample variability than the widely used endogenous miR-16-5p reflecting that the latter is subject to both biological and technical variability. Although Caenorhabditis elegans miRNAs isolation yields were heterogeneous, they correlated to each other and to their geometrical mean across samples. The normalization based on the geometrical mean of three exogenous miRNAs increased the correlation up-to 0.97 between the microarrays and individual RT-qPCR steps of circulating miRNAs expression. Overall, this new strategy open new avenue to identify reliable circulating miRNA signatures for translation into clinical practice.