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MiR-126 and miR-146a as Melatonin-Responsive Biomarkers for Neonatal Brain Ischemia.

Despite advances in obstetric and neonatal care, challenges remain in early identification of neonates with encephalopathy due to hypoxia-ischemia who are undergoing therapeutic hypothermia. Therefore, there is a deep search for biomarkers that can identify brain injury. The aims of this study were to investigate the serum and brain expressions of two potential biomarkers, miR-126/miR-146a, in a preclinical model of hypoxia-ischemia (HI)-induced brain injury, and to explore their modulation during melatonin treatment. Seven-day-old rats were subjected to permanent ligation of the right carotid artery followed by 2.5 h hypoxia (HI). Melatonin (15 mg/kg) was administered 5 min after HI. Serum and brain samples were collected 1, 6 and 24 h after HI. Results show that HI caused a significant increase in the circulating levels of both miR-126 and miR-146a during the early phase of ischemic brain damage development (i.e. 1 h), with a parallel and opposite pattern in the ischemic cerebral cortex. These effects are not observed 24 h later. Treatment with melatonin restored the HI-induced effects on miR-126/miR-146a expressions, both in the cerebral cortex and in serum. We conclude that miR-126/miR-146a are promising biomarkers of HI injury and demonstrate an associated change in concentration following melatonin treatment.

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