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Circulating microRNA-122 as Potential Biomarker for Detection of Testosterone Abuse.
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Publication types: Journal ArticlePublication Status: epublish
MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that regulate gene expression and thus influence many cellular and physiological processes. miRNAs are also present in cell-free body fluids such as plasma or serum, and these circulating miRNAs are very stable, sensitive, and specific biomarkers of pathophysiological states. In this study, we investigated whether circulating miRNAs could serve as biomarkers of exogenous testosterone administration. Misuse of testosterone as a performance-enhancing drug is thought to be widespread in sports. Detection of testosterone through the urinary steroid profile of the Athlete Biological Passport faces several obstacles, indicating that new biomarkers are required. To this end, we analyzed plasma miRNA levels by high-throughput quantitative real-time PCR. Plasma samples were obtained before and at several time points after transdermal and oral testosterone administration. Screening identified three potential candidate miRNAs that were altered by both routes of testosterone administration. Longitudinal monitoring of these candidates revealed that variation in two of them (miR-150 and miR-342), relative to the corresponding levels in control samples, was testosterone-independent. However, levels of the liver-specific miR-122 increased 3.5-fold 1 day after drug intake. Given that testosterone is metabolized by the liver, this observation suggests that miR-122 in cell-free fluids may be used as a sensitive biomarker of testosterone misuse via multiple dosing routes and could therefore be integrated into a blood-based multiparametric follow-up.
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