Profiling of circulating microRNAs: from single biomarkers to re-wired networks

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Abstract

The recent discovery that microRNAs (miRNAs) are present in the circulation sparked interest in their use as potential biomarkers. In this review, we will summarize the latest findings on circulating miRNAs and cardiovascular disease but also discuss analytical challenges. While research on circulating miRNAs is still in its infancy, high analytical standards in statistics and study design are a prerequisite to obtain robust data and avoid repeating the mistakes of the early genetic association studies. Otherwise, studies tend to get published because of their novelty despite low numbers, poorly matched cases and controls and no multivariate adjustment for conventional risk factors. Research on circulating miRNAs can only progress by bringing more statistical rigour to bear in this field and by evaluating changes of individual miRNAs in the context of the overall miRNA network. Such miRNA signatures may have better diagnostic and prognostic value.

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