MicroRNA signatures differentiate Crohn's disease from ulcerative colitis

Jeremy S. Schaefer, Taraq Attumi, Antone R. Opekun, Bincy P. Abraham, Jason Hou, Harold Shelby, David Y. Graham, Charles Streckfus, John R. Klein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

123 Scopus citations


Background: Excessive and inappropriate immune responses are the hallmark of several autoimmune disorders, including the inflammatory bowel diseases (IBD): Crohn's disease (CD) and ulcerative colitis (UC). A complex etiology involving both environmental and genetic factors influences IBD pathogenesis. The role of microRNAs (miRNAs), noncoding RNAs involved in regulating numerous biological processes, to IBD pathology, in terms of initiation and progression, remains ill-defined. In the present study, we evaluated the relationship between colon, peripheral blood, and saliva whole miRNome expression in IBD patients and non-inflammatory bowel disease (non-IBD) controls to identify miRNAs that could discriminate CD from UC. Quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) was used to validate and assess miRNA expression. Results: Microarray analysis demonstrated that upwards of twenty six miRNAs were changed in CD and UC colon biopsies relative to the non-IBD controls. CD was associated with the differential expression of 10 miRNAs while UC was associated with 6 miRNAs in matched colon tissues. CD was associated with altered expression of 6 miRNAs while UC was associated with 9 miRNAs in whole blood. Expression of miR-101 in CD patients and miR-21, miR-31, miR-142-3p, and miR-142-5p in UC patients were altered in saliva. Conclusions: Our results suggest that there is specific miRNA expression patterns associated with UC versus CD in three separate tissue/body fluids (colon, blood, and saliva). Further, the aberrant miRNA expression profiles indicate that miRNAs may be contributory to IBD pathogenesis, or at least reflect the underlying inflammation. Scrutinizing miRNA expression in saliva and blood samples may be beneficial in monitoring or diagnosing disease in IBD patients. A panel of miRNAs (miR-19a, miR-21, miR-31, miR-101, miR-146a, and miR-375) may be used as markers to identify and discriminate between CD and UC.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number5
JournalBMC Immunology
Issue number1
StatePublished - Feb 10 2015


  • Blood
  • Colon
  • IBD
  • Saliva
  • microRNAs

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology


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