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PLoS By Category | Recent PLoS Articles
Critical Care and Emergency Medicine - Infectious Diseases - Nephrology - Neurological Disorders - Pathology

Circulating microRNAs in Patients with Shiga-Toxin-Producing E. coli O104:H4 Induced Hemolytic Uremic Syndrome
Published: Thursday, October 11, 2012
Author: Johan M. Lorenzen et al.

by Johan M. Lorenzen, Jan Menne, Bernhard MW. Schmidt, Mascha Schmidt, Filippo Martino, Robert Dietrich, Senguel Samiri, Hans Worthmann, Meike Heeren, Karin Weissenborn, Hermann Haller, Mario Schiffer, Jan T. Kielstein, Thomas Thum


In early May 2011, an outbreak of hemorrhagic colitis associated with hemolytic–uremic syndrome (HUS) first developed in Northern Germany and spread to 15 other countries in Europe. The outbreak-strain O104:H4, which combined virulence factors of typical enteroaggregative and Shiga-Toxin–producing E. coli was associated with an unusual high rate of hemolytic uremic syndrome. Also an unexpected high rate of coma and seizures leading to mechanical ventilation and ICU treatment was observed. MicroRNAs are small ribonucleotides orchestrating gene expression. We tested whether circulating microRNAs in serum of HUS patients during the 2011 epidemics are altered in this patient cohort and related to clinical manifestations.

Methodology/Principal Findings

We profiled microRNAs using RNA isolated from serum of patients and healthy age-matched controls. The results were validated in 38 patients at baseline, 29 patients during follow-up and 21 age-matched healthy controls by miRNA-specific quantitative RT-PCR. Circulating levels of miR-24, miR-126 were increased in HUS patients versus controls. There was no association between these microRNAs and renal function or the need for renal replacement therapy. In contrast, levels of miR-126 were associated with neurological symptoms at baseline and during follow-up. In addition, miR-126 (on admission) and miR-24 (on admission and during follow-up) were associated with platelet count.


Circulating microRNAs are strongly altered in this patient cohort and associated with neurological symptoms as well as platelet count.