The circulating serum microRNA (miRNA) miR-30e-5p has great potential as a predictive biomarker for disease course in myasthenia gravis, independently of disease subgroup, according to a new study published in Cells. miR-150-5p, on the other hand, is highly sensitive but has low specificity for myasthenia gravis.

Therefore, the authors of the study propose miR-30e-5p as a predictive biomarker in myasthenia gravis but stress that none of the miRNAs that they analyzed were strictly specific to myasthenia gravis and were also found to be elevated in other neuroimmune diseases.

“A correctly powered, multicenter, longitudinal prospective study is needed to confirm and validate our data regarding miR-30e-5p,” they wrote. They added that technical improvements are necessary so these biomarkers can be translated from a research setting to a clinical one.

Objective biomarkers that can help guide individualized treatment plans are lacking for myasthenia gravis. However, the levels of specific circulating serum miRNAs have been shown to correlate with the clinical course of the disease in specific patient subgroups.

Read more about myasthenia gravis prognosis

Here, a team of researchers led by Anna Rostedt Punga, MD, PhD, from the Department of Clinical Neurophysiology at Uppsala University in Sweden measured the levels of miR-30e-5p, miR-150-5p, and miR-21-5p in the serum of 27 patients with myasthenia gravis who were newly diagnosed, and compared them to the levels in 20 patients with other neuroimmune diseases as well as 245 healthy individuals.

Their aim was to better characterize these miRNAs, regardless of myasthenia gravis subgroup, and determine their sensitivity and specificity as a potential biomarker for the disease as well as relapse risk.

The results showed that the levels of miR-30e-5p and miR-150-5p were significantly different between patients with myasthenia gravis and healthy controls. However, there were no differences compared to patients with other neuroimmune diseases. Moreover, high levels of miR-30e-5p had a predictive value in terms of myasthenia gravis relapse.

Myasthenia gravis is a rare neuroimmune disease caused by an antibody-mediated autoimmune response against the neuromuscular junction. Symptoms include muscle weakness, especially in the eyelids. There are many tests available that can help diagnose myasthenia gravis but diagnosis is difficult since muscle weakness is a symptom of many other diseases.

Reference

Beretta F, Huang YF, Punga AR. Towards personalized medicine in myasthenia gravis: role of circulating microRNAs miR-30e-5p, miR-150-5p and miR-21-5p. Cells. 2022;11(4):740. doi:10.3390/cells11040740