In the present work, we aimed to investigate the expression of microRNAs (miRNAs) in routine colonic biopsies obtained from patients with idiopathic Parkinson’s disease (PD) and to address their value as a diagnostic biomarker for PD and their mechanistic contribution to PD onset and progression.
Patients with PD (n = 13) and healthy controls (n = 17) were prospectively recruited to undergo routine colonic biopsies for cancer screening. Total RNA was extracted from the biopsy material and the expression of miRNAs was quantified by Illumina High-Throughput Sequencing.
Statistical analysis revealed a significant submucosal enrichment of the miRNA hsa-miR-486-5p in colonic biopsies from PD patients compared to the control subjects. The expression of miR-486-5p correlated with age and disease severity as measured by the UPDRS and Hoehn & Yahr scale. miRNA gene target analysis identified 301 gene targets that are affected by miR-486-5p. A follow-up associated target identification and pathway enrichment analysis further determined their role in distinct biological processes in the enteric nervous system (ENS).
Our work demonstrates an enrichment of submucosal miR-486-5p in routine colonic biopsies from PD patients. Our results will support the examination of miR-486-5p as a PD biomarker and help to understand the significance of the miR-486-5p gene targets for PD onset and progression. In addition, our data will support the investigation of the molecular and cellular mechanisms of GI dysfunction in PD.

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