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MicroRNAs as Biomarkers for Tobacco Exposure and Heart Disease

Principal Investigator: Yong Li

Funding Mechanism:  National Institutes of Health- Grant

ID Number: 1R21HL120050-01A1

Award Date: 5/20/2014

Institution:  University of Louisville 

Altered expression of microRNAs -- short 20-25 nucleotide RNA molecules that negatively regulate gene expression -- has been reported in various tobacco-related diseases, such as cardiovascular dysfunction. Tobacco smoke substantially alters the microRNA profile, but the role of microRNAs in the association between tobacco exposure and heart disease has yet to be determined. The specific aim of this study is to explore whether microRNAs can serve as blood-based biomarkers that link heart disease to tobacco use. Researchers will evaluate differences in the plasma microRNA profiles of 40 adult smokers divided into four groups: smokers with or without myocardial infarction and nonsmokers with or without myocardial infarction. Researchers will also profile circulating microRNAs in smokers with or without myocardial infarction who attempt smoking cessation. Next, researchers will profile the circulating microRNAs in mice exposed to acute or chronic tobacco smoke and induced to have acute myocardial infarction in order to examine the effect of tobacco smoke exposure and heart injury on the microRNA profile. Finally, researchers will analyze microRNA alterations in both humans and mice, compare them to the circulating microRNA profiles of various human cardiovascular pathologies, and formulate a microRNA signature that can be used as a biomarker to associate heart disease with tobacco exposure. Research findings will reveal biologically relevant changes associated with tobacco use and exposure in humans and mice and indicate whether microRNAs could be predictive of tobacco-related adverse cardiovascular conditions.

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