Geok Wee Tab, Alan Soo Beng Khoo and Lu Ping Tan (2015). Evaluation of extraction kits and RT-qPCR systems adapted to high-throughput platform for circulating miRNAs. Scientific Reports 5: 9430
MicroRNAs regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. Differential expression of miRNAs can potentially be used as biomarkers for early diagnosis and prediction for outcomes. Failure in validation of miRNA profiles is often caused by variations in experimental parameters. In this study, the performance of five extraction kits and three RT-qPCR systems were evaluated using BioMark high-throughput platform and the effects of different experimental parameters on circulating miRNA levels were determined. Differences in the performance of extraction kits as well as varying accuracy, sensitivity and reproducibility in qPCR systems were observed. Normalisation of RT-qPCR data to spike-in controls can reduce extraction bias. However, the extent of correlation for different qPCR systems varies in different assays. At different time points, there was no significant fold change in eight of the plasma miRNAs that we evaluated. Higher level of miRNAs was detected in plasma as compared to serum of the same cohort. In summary, we demonstrated that high-throughput RT-qPCR with pre-amplification step had increased sensitivity and can be achieved with accuracy and high reproducibility through stringent experimental controls. The information provided here is useful for planning biomarker validation studies involving circulating miRNAs.