Hypothesis: Do miRNAs Targeting the Leucine-Rich Repeat Kinase 2 Gene (LRRK2) Influence Parkinson's Disease Susceptibility?OMICS. 2016 Apr; 20(4):224-8.O
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a frequently occurring neurodegenerative motor disorder adversely impacting global health. There is a paucity of biomarkers and diagnostics that can forecast susceptibility to PD. A new research frontier for PD pathophysiology is the study of variations in microRNA (miRNA) expression whereby miRNAs serve as "upstream regulators" of gene expression in relation to functioning of the dopamine neuronal pathways. Leucine-Rich Repeat Kinase 2 (LRRK2) is a frequently studied gene in PD. Little is known about the ways in which expression of miRNAs targeting LRKK2 impact PD susceptibility. In a sample of 204 unrelated subjects (102 persons with PD and 102 healthy controls), we report here candidate miRNA expression in whole blood samples as measured by real-time PCR (hsa-miR-4671-3p, hsa-miR-335-3p, hsa-miR-561-3p, hsa-miR-579-3p, and hsa-miR-3143) that target LRRK2. Using step-wise logistic regression, and controlling for covariates such as age, gender, PD disease severity, concomitant medications, and co-morbidity, we found that the combination of has-miR-335-3p, has-miR-561-3p, and has-miR-579-3p account for 50% of the variation in regards to PD susceptibility (p<0.0001). Notably, the hsa-miR-561-3p expression was the most robust predictor of PD in both univariate and multivariate analyses (p<0.001). Moreover, the biological direction (polarity) of the association was plausible in that the candidate miRNAs displayed a diminished expression in patients. This is consistent with the hypothesis that decreased levels of miRNAs targeting LRRK2 might result in a gain of function for LRRK2, and by extension, loss of neuronal viability. To the best of our knowledge, this is the first clinical association study of the above candidate miRNAs' expression in PD using peripheral samples. These observations may guide future clinical diagnostics research on PD.