Background: Chronic kidney disease of unknown etiology (CKDu) is reported among male paddy farmers in the dry zone of Sri Lanka. The exact cause of this disease remains undetermined. Genetic susceptibility is identified as a major risk factor for CKDu
Objectives: In this study, small urinary RNAs were characterized in CKDu patients, healthy endemic and non-endemic controls. Differently expressed urinary miRNAs and their associated pathways were identified in the study population.
Methods: Healthy and diseased male volunteers (n = 9) were recruited from Girandurukotte (endemic) and Mawanella (non-endemic) districts. Urinary small RNAs were purified and sequenced using Illumina MiSeqTM. The sequence trace files were assembled and analyzed. Differentially ex-pressed miRNAs among these three groups were identified and pathway analysis was conducted.
Results: The urine samples contained 130,623 sequence reads identified as non-coding RNAs, PIWI-interacting RNAs (piRNA), and miRNAs. Approximately four percent of the total small RNA reads represented miRNA, and 29% represented piRNA. A total of 409 miRNA species were ex-pressed in urine. Interestingly, both diseased and endemic controls population showed significantly low expression of miRNA and piRNA. Regardless of the health status, the endemic population ex-pressed significantly low levels of miR-10a, miR-21, miR-148a, and miR-30a which have been linked with several environmental toxins
Conclusion: Significant downregulation of miRNA and piRNA expression in both diseased and healthy endemic samples indicates an epigenetic regulation of CKDu involving genetic and environmental interaction. Further studies of specific miRNA species are required to develop a miRNA panel to identify individuals susceptible to CKDu.
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