Circulating MicroRNA-15a Associates With Retinal Damage in Patients With Early Stage Type 2 Diabetes: Frontiers in Endocrinology

E. Sangalli, E. Tagliabue, L.L. Sala, F. Prattichizzo, A. Uccellatore, D. Spada, F. Lorino, P.D. Candia, S. Lupini, L. Cantone, C. Favero, P. Madeddu, V. Bollati, S. Genovese, G. Spinetti

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Circulating microRNAs are potential biomarkers of type 2 diabetes mellitus (T2DM) and related complications. Here, we investigated the association of microRNA-15a with early retinal damage in T2DM. A cohort of untreated subjects screened for intermediate/high risk of T2DM, according to a score assessment questionnaire, and then recognized to have a normal (NGT) or impaired (IGT) glucose tolerance or T2DM was studied. The thickness of the ganglion cell complex (GCC), an early marker of retinal degeneration anteceding overt retinopathy was assessed by Optical Coherence Tomography. Total and extracellular vesicles (EV)-associated microRNA-15a quantity was measured in plasma by real time PCR. MicroRNA-15a level was significantly higher in subjects with IGT and T2DM compared with NGT. MicroRNA-15a abundance was correlated to body mass index and classical diabetes biomarkers, including fasting glucose, HbA1c, insulinemia, and HOMA-IR. Moreover, GCC thickness was significantly reduced in IGT and T2DM subjects compared with NGT controls. Importantly, total microRNA-15a correlated with GCC in IGT subjects, while in T2DM subjects, EV-microRNA-15a negatively correlated with GCC, suggesting that microRNA-15a may monitor initial retinal damage. The assessment of plasma microRNA-15a may help refining risk assessment and secondary prevention in patients with preclinical T2DM. © Copyright © 2020 Sangalli, Tagliabue, Sala, Prattichizzo, Uccellatore, Spada, Lorino, Candia, Lupini, Cantone, Favero, Madeddu, Bollati, Genovese and Spinetti.
Original languageEnglish
JournalFront. Endocrinol.
Publication statusPublished - 2020


  • extracellular vesicles
  • microRNA-15a
  • microvascular disease
  • prediction and prevention of type 2 diabetes
  • retinopathy
  • biological marker
  • cholesterol
  • circulating microRNA
  • hemoglobin A1c
  • high density lipoprotein cholesterol
  • low density lipoprotein cholesterol
  • microRNA 15a
  • triacylglycerol
  • adult
  • aged
  • Article
  • body mass
  • controlled study
  • diagnostic accuracy
  • diagnostic test accuracy study
  • diastolic blood pressure
  • exosome
  • female
  • glucose blood level
  • glucose tolerance test
  • heart rate
  • homeostasis model assessment
  • human
  • impaired glucose tolerance
  • insulinemia
  • major clinical study
  • male
  • microalbuminuria
  • middle aged
  • non insulin dependent diabetes mellitus
  • optical coherence tomography
  • predictive value
  • questionnaire
  • real time polymerase chain reaction
  • receiver operating characteristic
  • retina injury
  • risk assessment
  • RNA extraction
  • systolic blood pressure
  • waist circumference


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