|"No one User wrote me! I'm worth |
millions of their man-years!"
I was therefore always going to be more than a little intrigued by the results published by Ekua Brenu and colleagues  and their observations on circulating microRNAs (miRNAs) in a small participant group diagnosed with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis (CFS/ME). Indeed their conclusion that "three differentially expressed circulating miRNAs in CFS/ME patients" might have potential biomarker qualities invites quite a bit of further study in this area.
The Brenu paper is open-access but a few details are worthwhile reiterating:
- The name of the game was "high-throughput sequencing (HTS) to globally profile circulating miRNA expression" in a small participant group diagnosed with CFS/ME (n=20) compared with non-fatigue controls (n=20). "This was followed by confirmative reverse transcription-quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR) to determine differential miRNA expression in CFS/ME".
- Actually, when it came down to it: "The six CFS/ME patients and six non-fatigued controls with the highest abundance of small RNA were used for HTS".
- Results: 19 miRNAs were reported as being significantly 'dysregulated' in CFS/ME compared to controls. Sixteen of these were subsequently dropped from the analysis as a result of being considered "low in abundance" from a detection point of view.
- Three miRNAs were left - hsa-miR127-3p, hsa-miR-142-5p and hsa-miR-143-3p - and were confirmed by RT-qPCR. All were up-regulated in CFS/ME cases and considered: "potential plasma biomarkers for CFS/ME diagnosis".
Obviously there is a long, long way to go before these findings translate into anything like a biomarker for CFS/ME. As per the authors' discussions, there are quite a few other conditions / biological processes which are seemingly impacted by these miRNAs; as one example: "Over-expression of miR-142-5p has been observed in most cancer-related and immunological disorders". So exclusivity to CFS/ME is unlikely to be seen. That and the fact that like quite a few conditions described these days, CFS/ME is likely not to just be one unified condition...
I note also that this is not the first time that this research group have ventured into the whole "microRNAs as prospective biomarkers" of CFS/ME as per some work a few years earlier . On that particular occasions, drawing on an equally small participant group, the authors reported findings implicating other miRNAs. Specifically: "There was a significant reduction in the expression levels of miR-21, in both the NK [Natural Killer] and CD8(+)T cells in the CFS/ME sufferers". The immune system link with CFS/ME is interesting but again there's a lot more work needed in this area.
Music, music, music... D.I.Y from Heaton & Abbott.
 Brenu EW. et al. High-Throughput Sequencing of Plasma MicroRNA in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. PLoS One. 2014 Sep 19;9(9):e102783.
 Brenu EW. et al. Cytotoxic lymphocyte microRNAs as prospective biomarkers for Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. J Affect Disord. 2012 Dec 10;141(2-3):261-9.
Brenu EW, Ashton KJ, Batovska J, Staines DR, & Marshall-Gradisnik SM (2014). High-Throughput Sequencing of Plasma MicroRNA in Chronic Fatigue Syndrome/Myalgic Encephalomyelitis. PloS one, 9 (9) PMID: 25238588