Potential of extracellular microRNAs as biomarkers of acetaminophen toxicity in children

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Developing biomarkers for detecting acetaminophen (APAP) toxicity has been widely investigated. Recent studies of adults with APAP-induced liver injury have reported human serum microRNA-122 (miR-122) as a novel biomarker of APAP-induced liver injury. The goal of this study was to examine extracellular microRNAs (miRNAs) as potential biomarkers for APAP liver injury in children. Global levels of serum and urine miRNAs were examined in three pediatric subgroups: 1) healthy children (n = 10), 2) hospitalized children receiving therapeutic doses of APAP (n = 10) and 3) children hospitalized for APAP overdose (n = 8). Out of 147 miRNAs detected in the APAP overdose group, eight showed significantly increased median levels in serum (miR-122, -375, -423-5p, -30d-5p, -125b-5p, -4732-5p, -204-5p, and -574-3p), compared to the other groups. Analysis of urine samples from the same patients had significantly increased median levels of four miRNAs (miR-375, -940, -9-3p and -302a) compared to the other groups. Importantly, correlation of peak serum APAP protein adduct levels (an indicator of the oxidation of APAP to the reactive metabolite N-acetyl-para-quinone imine) with peak miRNA levels showed that the highest correlation was observed for serum miR-122 (R = 0.94; p < 0.01) followed by miR-375 (R = 0.70; p = 0.05). Conclusion: Our findings demonstrate that miRNAs are increased in children with APAP toxicity and correlate with APAP protein adducts, suggesting a potential role as biomarkers of APAP toxicity.

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