Role of circulating miRNAs as biomarkers in idiopathic pulmonary arterial hypertension: possible relevance of miR-23a.

Idiopathic pulmonary hypertension (IPAH) is a rare disease characterized by a progressive increase in pulmonary vascular resistance leading to heart failure. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small noncoding RNAs that control the expression of genes, including some involved in the progression of IPAH, as studied in animals and lung tissue. These molecules circulate freely in the blood and their expression is associated with the progression of different vascular pathologies. Here, we studied the expression profile of circulating miRNAs in 12 well-characterized IPAH patients using microarrays. We found significant changes in 61 miRNAs, of which the expression of miR23a was correlated with the patients' pulmonary function. We also studied the expression profile of circulating messenger RNA (mRNAs) and found that miR23a controlled 17% of the significantly changed mRNA, including PGC1a, which was recently associated with the progression of IPAH. Finally we found that silencing of miR23a resulted in an increase of the expression of PGC1a, as well as in its well-known regulated genes CYC, SOD, NRF2, and HO1. The results point to the utility of circulating miRNA expression as a biomarker of disease progression.
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