A case-control comparison of acute-phase peripheral blood gene expression in participants diagnosed with minor ischaemic stroke or stroke mimics

Joseph V. Moxon, Andrew Calcino, Ann-Katrin Kraeuter, James Phie, Georgina Anderson, Glenys Standley, Rhondda E. Jones, Matt A. Field, Jonathan Golledge*

*Corresponding author for this work

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Past studies suggest that there are changes in peripheral blood cell gene expression in response to ischaemic stroke; however, the specific changes which occur during the acute phase are poorly characterised. The current study aimed to identify peripheral blood cell genes specifically associated with the early response to ischaemic stroke using whole blood samples collected from participants diagnosed with ischaemic stroke (n = 29) or stroke mimics (n = 27) following emergency presentation to hospital. Long non-coding RNA (lncRNA), mRNA and micro-RNA (miRNA) abundance was measured by RNA-seq, and the consensusDE package was used to identify genes which were differentially expressed between groups. A sensitivity analysis excluding two participants with metastatic disease was also conducted.

The mean time from symptom onset to blood collection was 2.6 h. Most strokes were mild (median NIH stroke scale score 2.0). Ten mRNAs (all down-regulated in samples provided by patients experiencing ischaemic stroke) and 30 miRNAs (14 over-expressed and 16 under-expressed in participants with ischaemic stroke) were significantly different between groups in the whole cohort and sensitivity analyses. No significant over-representation of gene ontology categories by the differentially expressed genes was observed. Random forest analysis suggested a panel of differentially expressed genes (ADGRG7 and miRNAs 96, 532, 6766, 6798 and 6804) as potential ischaemic stroke biomarkers, although modelling analyses demonstrated that these genes had poor diagnostic performance.

This study provides evidence suggesting that the early response to minor ischaemic stroke is predominantly reflected by changes in the expression of miRNAs in peripheral blood cells. Further work in independent cohorts particularly in patients with more severe stroke is needed to validate these findings and investigate their clinical relevance.
Original languageEnglish
Article number106
Pages (from-to)1-11
Number of pages11
JournalHuman Genomics
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 25 Nov 2023

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