Early recognition of vulnerable carotid plaques could help in identifying patients at high stroke risk, who may benefit from earlier revascularisation. Nowadays, different biomarkers of plaque instability have been unravelled, among these miRNAs are promising tools for the diagnosis and treatment of atherosclerosis. Inflammation, reactive oxygen species (ROS) and endothelial dysfunction play a key role in unstable plaques genesis. We showed that miR-200c induces endothelial dysfunction, ROS production and a positive mechanism among miR-200c and miR-33a/b, two miRNAs involved in atherosclerosis progression. The goal of the present study was to determine whether miR-200c could be an atherosclerosis biomarker. Carotid plaques of patients that underwent carotid endarterectomy (CEA) were assayed for miR-200c expression. miR-200c was up-regulated in carotid plaques (n=22) and its expression was higher in unstable (n=12) compared with stable (n=10) plaques. miR-200c positively correlated with instability biomarkers (i.e. monocyte chemoattractant protein-1, cicloxigenase-2 (COX2), interleukin 6 (IL6), metalloproteinase (MMP) 1 (MMP1), 9 (MMP9)) and miR-33a/b. Moreover, miR-200c negatively correlated with stability biomarkers (i.e. zinc finger E-box binding homoeobox 1 (ZEB1), endothelial nitric oxide (NO) synthase (eNOS), forkhead boxO1 (FOXO1) and Sirtuin1 (SIRT1)) (stable plaques = 15, unstable plaques = 15). Circulating miR-200c was up-regulated before CEA in 24 patients, correlated with miR-33a/b and decreased 1 day after CEA. Interestingly, 1 month after CEA, circulating miR-200c is low in patients with stable plaques (n=11) and increased to control levels, in patients with unstable plaques (n=13). Further studies are needed to establish whether miR-200c represents a circulating biomarker of plaque instability. Our results show that miR-200c is an atherosclerotic plaque progression biomarker and suggest that it may be clinically useful to identify patients at high embolic risk.

You do not currently have access to this content.