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Serum microRNAs explain discordance of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease in monozygotic and dizygotic twins: a prospective study
  1. Amir Zarrinpar1,2,
  2. Shakti Gupta3,
  3. Mano R Maurya3,
  4. Shankar Subramaniam3,4,
  5. Rohit Loomba1,2,5
  1. 1NAFLD Translational Research Unit, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
  2. 2Division of Gastroenterology, Department of Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
  3. 3Department of Bioengineering, San Diego Supercomputer Center, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
  4. 4Departments of Computer Science & Engineering and Cellular & Molecular Medicine, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
  5. 5Division of Epidemiology, Department of Family Medicine and Public Health, University of California, San Diego, La Jolla, California, USA
  1. Correspondence to Professor Rohit Loomba, Division of Gastroenterology and Epidemiology, University of California at San Diego School of Medicine, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0063, USA; roloomba{at}ucsd.edu and Dr Shankar Subramaniam, Department of Bioengineering, University of California at San Diego, 9500 Gilman Drive, La Jolla, CA 92093-0412, USA; shankar@ucsd.edu

Abstract

Objective In the setting where two individuals are genetically similar, epigenetic mechanisms could account for discordance in the presence or absence of non-alcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD). This study investigated if serum microRNAs (miRs) could explain discordance in NAFLD.

Design This is a cross-sectional analysis of a prospective cohort study of 40 (n=80) twin-pairs residing in Southern California. All participants underwent a standardised research visit, liver MRI using proton-density fat fraction to quantify fat content and miR profiling of their serum.

Results Among the 40 twin-pairs, there were 6 concordant for NAFLD, 28 were concordant for non-NAFLD and 6 were discordant for NAFLD. The prevalence of NAFLD was 22.5% (18/80). Within the six discordant twins, a panel of 10 miRs differentiated the twin with NAFLD from the one without. Two of these miRs, miR-331-3p and miR-30c, were also among the 21 miRs that were different between NAFLD and non-NAFLD groups (for miR-331-3p: 7.644±0.091 vs 8.057±0.071, respectively, p=0.004; for miR-30c: 10.013±0.126 vs 10.418±0.086, respectively, p=0.008). Both miRs were highly heritable (35.9% and 10.7%, respectively) and highly correlated with each other (R=0.90, p=2.2×10−16) suggesting involvement in a common mechanistic pathway. An interactome analysis of these two miRs showed seven common target genes.

Conclusions Using a novel human twin-study design, we demonstrate that discordancy in liver fat content between the twins can be explained by miRs, and that they are heritable.

  • NONALCOHOLIC STEATOHEPATITIS
  • FATTY LIVER
  • OBESITY
  • GENETICS
  • LIVER

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