Hsa-miR-34b is a plasma-stable microRNA that is elevated in pre-manifest Huntington's disease

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Huntington's disease (HD) is a devastating, neurodegenerative condition, which lacks effective treatment. Normal Huntingtin (HTT) and mutant Huntingtin (mHTT) are expressed in multiple tissues and can alter transcription of microRNAs (miRs). Importantly, miRs are present in a bio-stable form in human peripheral blood plasma and have recently been shown to be useful biomarkers in other diseases. We therefore sought to identify potential miR biomarkers of HD that are present in, and have functional consequences for, neuronal and non-neuronal tissues. In a cell line over-expressing mHTT-Exon-1, miR microarray analysis was used to identify candidate miRs. We then examined their presence and bio-stability in control and HD plasma. We found that miR-34b is significantly elevated in response to mHTT-Exon-1, and its blockade alters the toxicity of mHTT-Exon-1 in vitro. We also show that miR-34b is detectable in plasma from small input volumes and is insensitive to freeze-thaw-induced RNA degradation. Interestingly, miR-34b is significantly elevated in plasma from HD gene carriers prior to symptom onset. This is the first study suggesting that plasma miRs might be used as biomarkers for HD.


  • Philip Gaughwin
  • Maciej Ciesla
  • Nayana Lahiri
  • Sarah J. Tabrizi
  • Patrik Brundin
  • Maria Björkqvist
Research areas and keywords

Subject classification (UKÄ) – MANDATORY

  • Medical Genetics
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2225-2237
JournalHuman Molecular Genetics
Issue number11
Publication statusPublished - 2011
Publication categoryResearch

Bibliographic note

The information about affiliations in this record was updated in December 2015. The record was previously connected to the following departments: Neuronal Survival (013212041)