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International Journal of Hepatology
Volume 2014, Article ID 791045, 10 pages
http://dx.doi.org/10.1155/2014/791045
Research Article

Circulating MicroRNAs in Plasma of Hepatitis B e Antigen Positive Children Reveal Liver-Specific Target Genes

1Department of Paediatrics, Hvidovre Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Kettegaard Allé 30, 2650 Hvidovre, Denmark
2Department of Paediatrics and Center for Non-Coding RNA in Technology and Health, Herlev Hospital, University of Copenhagen, Arkaden, 2730 Herlev, Denmark

Received 27 August 2014; Accepted 19 November 2014; Published 17 December 2014

Academic Editor: Daisuke Morioka

Copyright © 2014 Thilde Nordmann Winther 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.

Abstract

Background and Aim. Hepatitis B e antigen positive (HBeAg-positive) children are at high risk of severe complications such as hepatocellular carcinoma and cirrhosis. Liver damage is caused by the host immune response to infected hepatocytes, and we hypothesise that specific microRNAs play a role in this complex interaction between virus and host. The study aimed to identify microRNAs with aberrant plasma expressions in HBeAg-positive children and with liver-specific target genes. Methods. By revisiting our previous screen of microRNA plasma levels in HBeAg-positive and HBeAg-negative children with chronic hepatitis B (CHB) and in healthy controls, candidate microRNAs with aberrant plasma expressions in HBeAg-positive children were identified. MicroRNAs targeting liver-specific genes were selected based on bioinformatics analysis and validated by qRT-PCR using plasma samples from 34 HBeAg-positive, 26 HBeAg-negative, and 60 healthy control children. Results. Thirteen microRNAs showed aberrant plasma expressions in HBeAg-positive children and targeted liver-specific genes. In particular, three microRNAs were upregulated and one was downregulated in HBeAg-positive children compared to HBeAg-negative and healthy control children, which showed equal levels. Conclusion. The identified microRNAs might impact the progression of CHB in children. Functional studies are warranted, however, to elucidate the microRNAs’ role in the immunopathogenesis of childhood CHB.