Gary P. Brennan, Dimitrios M. Vitsios, Sophie Casey, Ann-Marie Looney, Boubou Hallberg, David C. Henshall, Geraldine B. Boylan, Deirdre M. Murray, Catherine Mooney
MicroRNAs are a class of small non-coding RNA that regulate gene expression at a post-transcriptional level. MicroRNAs have been identified in various body fluids under normal conditions and their stability as well as their dysregulation in disease has led to ongoing interest in their diagnostic and prognostic potential. Circulating microRNAs may be valuable predictors of early-life complications such as birth asphyxia or neonatal seizures but there are relatively few data on microRNA content in plasma from healthy babies. Here we performed small RNA-sequencing analysis of plasma processed from umbilical cord blood in a set of healthy newborns. MicroRNA levels in umbilical cord plasma of four male and four female healthy babies, from two different centres were profiled. A total of 1,004 individual microRNAs were identified, which ranged from 426 to 659 per sample, of which 269 microRNAs were common to all eight samples. Many of these microRNAs are highly expressed and consistent with previous studies using other high throughput platforms. While overall microRNA expression did not differ between male and female cord blood plasma, we did detect differentially edited microRNAs in female plasma compared to male. Of note, and consistent with other studies of this type, adenylation and uridylation were the two most prominent forms of editing. Six microRNAs, miR-128-3p, miR-29a-3p, miR-9-5p, miR-218-5p, 204-5p and miR-132-3p were consistently both uridylated and adenylated in female cord blood plasma. These results provide a benchmark for microRNA profiling and biomarker discovery using umbilical cord plasma and can be used as comparative data for future biomarker profiles from complicated births or those with early-life developmental disorders.