Miller School Researchers Describe Regulatory RNA Molecules Operative in Human Graft Rejection

A team of investigators in the Departments of Surgery and Pediatrics and at the Miami Transplant Institute have discovered a restricted number of activated regulatory miRNAs that are related to the presence of aggressive alloreactive processes in intestinal transplant biopsies. Published in the February issue of the American Journal of Transplantation, the study provides the first description of specific microRNA (miRNA) molecules as a regulatory RNA family having a critical role in human intestinal graft rejection.

Led by Phillip Ruiz, M.D., Ph.D., professor of surgery, and first author Tadafumi Asaoka, M.D., visiting assistant professor of surgery, the study’s results are promising in the evaluation of regulatory molecules’ roles in the process of graft rejection.

The researchers used a novel assay they developed, whereby microarrays were performed from minute formalin-fixed biopsies—an innovation that will allow future studies for pathological interpretation to be performed on transplant tissue simultaneously.

“Our lab is now applying these findings to see whether similar pathways are operative in other solid organ transplant patients,” Dr. Ruiz said. “We are also in the next phase of evaluating a limited gene set as a potential biomarker diagnostic tool.”

Setting the stage for future research, scientists can now explore the development of provocative therapies based on these molecules that could enhance or interrupt regulatory processes in cellular and humoral alloimmune responses in all solid organ transplants.

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