Analysis of microRNA and Gene Expression Profiles in Multiple Sclerosis: Integrating Interaction Data to Uncover Regulatory Mechanisms

Sherry Freiesleben, Michael Hecker, Uwe Klaus Zettl, Georg Fuellen, Leila Taher

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have been reported to contribute to the pathophysiology of multiple sclerosis (MS), an inflammatory disorder of the central nervous system. Here, we propose a new consensus-based strategy to analyse and integrate miRNA and gene expression data in MS as well as other publically available data to gain a deeper understanding of the role of miRNAs in MS and to overcome the challenges posed by studies with limited patient sample sizes. We processed and analysed microarray datasets, and compared the expression of genes and miRNAs in the blood of MS patients and controls. We then used our consensus and integration approach to construct two molecular networks dysregulated in MS: a miRNA- and a gene-based network. We identified 18 differentially expressed (DE) miRNAs and 128 DE genes that may contribute to the regulatory alterations behind MS. The miRNAs were linked to immunological and neurological pathways, and we exposed let-7b-5p and miR-345-5p as promising blood-derived disease biomarkers in MS. The results suggest that DE miRNAs are more informative than DE genes in uncovering pathways potentially involved in MS. Our findings provide novel insights into the regulatory mechanisms and networks underlying MS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34512
JournalScientific Reports
Publication statusPublished - 3 Oct 2016


  • Biomarkers/blood
  • Databases, Nucleic Acid
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Gene Regulatory Networks
  • Humans
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs/blood
  • Multiple Sclerosis/blood

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