Plasma contains several bioactive molecules (RNA, DNA, proteins, lipids, and metabolites), which are well preserved in extracellular vesicles, that are involved in many types of cell-to-cell interactions, and are capable of modifying biological processes in recipient cells. To obtain information about the source of mRNA molecules present in the plasma, we analyzed the plasma extracellular RNA (exRNA) of healthy individuals using RNA-sequencing and compared it to that of the peripheral blood mononuclear cell (PBMCs) of the same individual. The resultant data indicates that large proportion of the transcripts in plasma are derived from cell types other than PBMCs. To assess aging-associated changes in the plasma exRNA composition, gene ontology enrichment analysis was performed, revealing a functional decline in biological processes as a result of aging. Additionally, plasma RNA levels were analyzed with differential expression analysis, revealing 10 transcripts with significant aging-associated changes. Thus, it seems that the plasma exRNA is not fully derived from the PBMCs. Instead, other cell types supply RNAs to constitute the plasma exRNA compartment. This was true in both the young and elderly individuals that were tested. Furthermore, the RNA content of the plasma showed significant changes due to aging, affecting important biological processes.Copyright © 2018. Published by Elsevier Inc.
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