Long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been highlighted to be involved in the pathological process of ischemic stroke (IS). The purpose of the present study was to investigate the expression profile of lncRNAs in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMCs) of acute IS patients and to explore their utility as biomarkers of IS. Distinctive expression patterns of PBMC lncRNAs were identified by an lncRNA microarray and individual quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) in four independent sets for 206 IS, 179 healthy controls (HCs), and 55 patients with transient ischemic attack (TIA). A biomarker panel (lncRNA-based combination index) was established using logistic regression. LncRNA microarray analysis showed 70 up-regulated and 128 down-regulated lncRNAs in IS patients. Individual qRT-PCR validation demonstrated that three lncRNAs (linc-DHFRL1-4, SNHG15, and linc-FAM98A-3) were significantly up-regulated in IS patients compared with HCs and TIA patients. Longitudinal analysis of lncRNA expression up to 90 days after IS showed that linc-FAM98A-3 normalized to control levels by day 7, while SNHG15 remained increased, indicating the ability of lncRNAs to monitor IS dynamics. Receiver-operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis showed that the lncRNA-based combination index outperformed serum brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) and neurone-specific enolase (NSE) in distinguishing IS patients from TIA patients and HCs with areas under ROC curve of more than 0.84. Furthermore, the combination index increased significantly after treatment and was correlated with neurological deficit severity of IS. The panel of these altered lncRNAs was associated with acute IS and could serve as a novel diagnostic method.

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