Plasma and White Blood Cells Show Different miRNA Expression Profiles in Parkinson’s Disease

Christine Schwienbacher, Luisa Foco, Anne Picard, Eloina Corradi, Alice Serafin, Jörg Panzer, Stefano Zanigni, Hagen Blankenburg, Maurizio F. Facheris, Giulia Giannini, Marika Falla, Pietro Cortelli, Peter P. Pramstaller, Andrew A. Hicks

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Parkinson’s disease (PD) diagnosis is based on the assessment of motor symptoms, which manifest when more than 50% of dopaminergic neurons are degenerated. To date, no validated biomarkers are available for the diagnosis of PD. The aims of the present study are to evaluate whether plasma and white blood cells (WBCs) are interchangeable biomarker sources and to identify circulating plasma-based microRNA (miRNA) biomarkers for an early detection of PD. We profiled plasma miRNA levels in 99 l-dopa-treated PD patients from two independent data collections, in ten drug-naïve PD patients, and in unaffected controls matched by sex and age. We evaluated expression levels by reverse transcription and quantitative real-time PCR (RT-qPCR) and combined the results from treated PD patients using a fixed effect inverse-variance weighted meta-analysis. We revealed different expression profiles comparing plasma and WBCs and drug-naïve and l-dopa-treated PD patients. We observed an upregulation trend for miR-30a-5p in l-dopa-treated PD patients and investigated candidate target genes by integrated in silico analyses. We could not analyse miR-29b-3p, normally expressed in WBCs, due to the very low expression in plasma. We observed different expression profiles in WBCs and plasma, suggesting that they are both suitable but not interchangeable peripheral sources for biomarkers. We revealed miR-30a-5p as a potential biomarker for PD in plasma. In silico analyses suggest that miR-30a-5p might have a regulatory role in mitochondrial dynamics and autophagy. Further investigations are needed to confirm miR-30a-5p deregulation and targets and to investigate the influence of l-dopa treatment on miRNA expression levels.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)244-254
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Molecular Neuroscience
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2017


  • Biofluid
  • Biomarker
  • MicroRNA (miRNA)
  • Parkinson’s disease (PD)

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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