BACKGROUND: Children born small for gestational age (SGA) are at increased risk of metabolic dysfunction. Dysregulation of specific microRNAs (miRNAs) contributes to aberrant gene expression patterns underlying metabolic dysfunction.
OBJECTIVE: We aimed to determine and compare circulating miRNA (c-miRNA) profile of SGA and appropriate for gestational age (AGA) children with obesity and with normal weight, in order to identify biomarkers for early detection of increased risk of developing metabolic dysfunction in SGA and AGA children with obesity.
METHODS: Small non-coding RNAs from serum of 15 SGA children with obesity (OB-SGA), 10 SGA children with normal weight (NW-SGA), 17 AGA children with obesity (OB-AGA) and 12 AGA children with normal weight (NW-AGA) (mean age 11.2 ± 2.6) have been extracted and sequenced in order to detect and quantify miRNA expression profiles.
RESULTS: RNA-seq analyses showed 28 miRNAs dysregulated in OB-SGA vs. NW-SGA and 19 miRNAs dysregulated in OB-AGA vs. NW-AGA. Among these, miR-92a-3p, miR-122-5p, miR-423-5p, miR-484, miR-486-3p and miR-532-5p were up regulated, and miR-181b-5p was down regulated in both OB-SGA and OB-AGA compared with normal weight counterparts. Pathway analysis and miRNA target prediction suggested that these miRNAs were particularly involved in insulin signalling, glucose transport, insulin resistance, cholesterol and lipid metabolism.
CONCLUSION: We identified a specific profile of c-miRNAs in SGA and AGA children with obesity compared with SGA and AGA children with normal weight. These c-miRNAs could represent specific biomarkers for early detection of increased risk of developing metabolic dysfunction in SGA and AGA children with obesity.