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BioMed Research International
Volume 2016 (2016), Article ID 2465763, 10 pages
Review Article

Potential Diagnostic and Prognostic Biomarkers of Epigenetic Drift within the Cardiovascular Compartment

1School of Health & Human Performance, Dublin City University, Ireland
2INSERM 1083, Angers Medical University, France
3School of Biotechnology, Dublin City University, Ireland
4The Biodesign Institute, School of Life Sciences, Arizona State University, USA

Received 24 July 2015; Revised 2 November 2015; Accepted 24 November 2015

Academic Editor: Xia Li

Copyright © 2016 Robert G. Wallace et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


Biomarkers encompass a wide range of different measurable indicators, representing a tangible link to physiological changes occurring within the body. Accessibility, sensitivity, and specificity are significant factors in biomarker suitability. New biomarkers continue to be discovered, and questions over appropriate selection and assessment of their usefulness remain. If traditional markers of inflammation are not sufficiently robust in their specificity, then perhaps alternative means of detection may provide more information. Epigenetic drift (epigenetic modifications as they occur as a direct function with age), and its ancillary elements, including platelets, secreted microvesicles (MVs), and microRNA (miRNA), may hold enormous predictive potential. The majority of epigenetic drift observed in blood is independent of variations in blood cell composition, addressing concerns affecting traditional blood-based biomarker efficacy. MVs are found in plasma and other biological fluids in healthy individuals. Altered MV/miRNA profiles may also be found in individuals with various diseases. Platelets are also highly reflective of physiological and lifestyle changes, making them extremely sensitive biomarkers of human health. Platelets release increased levels of MVs in response to various stimuli and under a plethora of disease states, which demonstrate a functional effect on other cell types.