Mini Regulatory Molecules Found In Circulating Blood
Researchers from the Ohio State University Medical Center have identified for the first time microRNA in the circulating blood of healthy human volunteers. MicroRNA are molecules that help control the types and amounts of proteins made by the cell.
The study appears in a recent issue of the journal Public Library of Science (PLoS One).
The study found the mini-regulatory molecules inside tiny sacs, or microvesicles, were circulating in the bloodstream. Exactly what they are doing there isn’t known yet, but the findings are the first step in determining the role of these molecules in the blood and whether they might one day be used to predict the presence of disease, says principal investigator Dr. Clay B. Marsh, director of the Center for Critical Care at Ohio State’s medical center and division director of pulmonary, allergy, critical care and sleep medicine.
“These microRNAs and microvesicles flowing in the blood may be a system used by our bodies to communicate between distant organ sites,” Marsh says. “Our findings strongly suggest that they are actively packaged and released by cells.”
Altered microRNA levels are associated with a wide variety of diseases, including cancer. The researchers speculate that miRNAs in blood cells also control the production of bone marrow cells, allowing for an inside look at how these genes change in disease states.
“By examining a healthy population, our findings have established a basis for future research to utilize the microRNA expression profile in microvesicles as diagnostic biomarkers for many human diseases,” says Dr. Melissa Piper-Hunter, who is first author of the study.
“This may open up a new avenue to understanding dynamic changes in this particular material that may contribute to health and disease of each individual,” adds Marsh.