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Small RNAs In Blood May Provide Valuable Information About Heart Injury

Update Date: Aug 01, 2014 12:24 PM EDT

Tiny pieces of RNA called microRNAs may be able to provide valuable information about damage to the heart, according to a new research. 

The research linked an increase in certain microRNAs circulating in the blood with injury to cardiac muscle. According to researchers, in future these molecules might provide the basis for a more sensitive diagnostic tool than those currently available. 

"When we profiled the small RNAs circulating in the blood of healthy people versus heart failure patients, we found increases in levels of certain microRNAs expressed by muscle, including three known to originate only in the heart," says Kemal Akat, the first author and a postdoc in the lab, in the press release. "Our research suggests these three microRNAs could be used as indicators of injury produced by anything from heart attack to an impact in a car accident."

MicroRNAs are encoded in the genome. They fine-tune the expression of genes in the cells that produce them. They also show up in the blood stream, outside the protective environment of the cell. 

 "Cells contain a small pool of soluble cardiac troponin, but the majority is bound to heart muscle filaments. By contrast, the protein complexes that contain microRNA within the cell are fully soluble. For this reason, we suspect microRNAs may be more readily released into circulation and their levels may increase faster than cardiac troponin upon tissue injury," Akat added. 

The findings of the research have been published in the journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

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