Brucellosis is an infectious disease caused by bacteria from the Brucella genus that can be transmitted to humans through contact with infected animals or contaminated animal products. Brucellosis also causes financial losses in animal production. Ruminants are highly susceptible to brucellosis, and the causative agent water buffaloes (Bubalus bubalis) is Brucella abortus. Circulating microRNAs (miRNAs) are cropping up as promising biomarkers for several infectious diseases. The goals of this study were to characterize the serum miRNA signature associated with brucellosis in water buffaloes and investigate the miRNAs’ potential use as biomarkers in vaginal fluids. Next Generation Sequencing was used to assess miRNA expression profiles in Brucella-positive and Brucella-negative blood sera; dysregulated miRNAs in blood serum and vaginal fluids were validated using RT-qPCR. ROC curves were generated to evaluate the diagnostic value of miRNAs for Brucella. GO and KEGG pathway enrichment analyses were exploited to investigate the biological functions of dysregulated miRNAs. The results showed that 20 miRNAs were modulated, of which, 12 were upregulated and 8 were downregulated. These findings were corroborated by RT-qPCR, and ROC curves indicated that the miRNAs can serve as potential biomarkers for Brucella. GO and KEGG pathway analyses pointed out that some of these miRNAs are related to immune response and apoptosis. These results provided an overview of miRNA expression profiles and highlighted potential biomarkers for Brucella infection in water buffaloes. We also demonstrated the potential of vaginal fluids in studies involving microRNA detection. Further functional and mechanistic studies of these miRNAs may improve our understanding of the biological processes involved in Brucella infection and host immune response.
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