Plasma Micro RNA-1-3p Levels Linked to Development of Atrial Fibrillation

Researchers, led by Begoña Benito, MD, from the Hospital Universitari Vall d’Hebron in Barcelona, Spain, examined markers of subclinical atrial fibrillation (AFib) in patients with cryptogenic stroke (CrS) by comparing circulating microRNA (miRNA) profiles between patients with CrS and AFib and those with persistent sinus rhythm. The study, published in Revista Española de Cardiologia, reported that plasma levels of miR-1-3p were elevated in patients with CrS and subsequent AFib.

Dr. Benito and colleagues stated that “our preliminary results suggest that miR-1-3p could be a novel biomarker that, together with clinical parameters, could help identify patients with CrS who are at high risk of occult AFib.”

A total of 18 patients with CrS undergoing continuous evaluation with an insertable device, as well as nine patients with concomitant stroke and AFib, were screen for expression of 754 miRNAs. Biological markers were categorized by the median and analyzed for their association with the incidence of AFib at six months and 12 months. A follow up replication cohort was also screened.

According to the study’s authors, eight miRNAs were expressed differently in patients with AFib versus those without. However, in the follow-up replication cohort, only miR-1-3p, a gene related to cardiac arrhythmogenesis, was the only miRNA to remain significantly higher in the study population versus those with standard sinus rhythm, and also a “modest” association with AFib burden. Plasma miR-1-3p values above the median, together with a low left atrial ejection fraction, were independently associated with the presence of AFib at six and 12 months.

Overall, the study’s authors felt that elevated circulating levels of miR-1-3p in patients with CrS could be a potential biomarker for identification of patients at high risk of AFib.