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Circular RNA Expression Pattern in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells: Potential Diagnostic Biomarkers for RA

Jul 26, 2017 9:00:53 AM / by Stacy Matthews Branch, DVM, PhD

An elderly man has pain in fingers and handsRheumatoid Arthritis (RA) is an autoimmune disease that results in chronic joint inflammation and damage. Prevention of progression to severe forms of RA can be achieved with early diagnosis. Newer therapies for RA are available; however, improvement of remission rates is limited primarily because the precise mechanism of RA pathogenesis is unknown. A recent study was aimed at identifying gene expression differences in RA patients in order to improve early detection as well as provide a better understanding of the underlying mechanism of the autoimmune response.

Circular RNAs (circRNAs) function in the regulation of gene expression and are involved in the development of a number of disease processes including cancer, atherosclerosis, and Alzheimer’s disease. Despite this knowledge, studies regarding the utility of circRNAs as biomarkers of disease or their role in RA pathogenesis are lacking. To address this, researchers conducted studies to explore the potential of circRNAs in peripheral blood mononuclear cells to serve as biomarkers for the diagnosis of RA.

Microarray analysis was performed to examine the expression profile of circRNAs in the peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with RA and healthy controls. Nine circRNAs were up-regulated and 3 were down-regulated in cells from patients with RA when compared to controls. Quantitative RT-PCR was used to confirm the microarray results for 10 of the differentially expressed circRNAs (8 upregulated and 2 down-regulated) using peripheral blood mononuclear cells from a different, larger group of patients. The expression levels of 5 of the 10 circRNAs were consistent with the microarray results of the patients with RA (upregulated), there was no differential expression for 3 of the circRNAs, and 2 were not detected in the cells of patients with RA or healthy controls.

The Spearman correlation test was used to determine if differentially expressed circRNAs from patients with RA could serve as biomarkers for RA severity. However, there was no correlation with DAS28 (disease activity score calculator for rheumatoid arthritis) and other health assessments. Based on ROC curve analysis (a statistical method to summarize the accuracy of predictions), levels of 4 of the circRNAs were shown to distinguish patients with RA from healthy controls. Taken together, the study results suggest that circRNA levels may be viable biomarkers for RA diagnosis, as well as bolster the understanding of the underling mechanisms of RA pathogenesis.

If you are conducting research into rheumatoid arthritis, HemaCare can provide you with peripheral blood mononuclear cells and other cell products from RA patients. Contact us today at 877-397-3087 to find out more.

Ouyang Q, e. (2017). Microarray Expression Profile of Circular RNAs in Peripheral Blood Mononuclear Cells from Rheumatoid Arthritis Patients. - PubMed - NCBI . Retrieved 14 July 2017, from

Topics: PBMCs

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