MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNA that regulate the expression of messenger RNA and are implicated in almost all cellular processes. Importantly, miRNAs can be released extracellularly and are stable in these matrices where they may serve as indicators of organ or cell-specific toxicity, disease, and biological status. There has thus been great enthusiasm for developing miRNAs as biomarkers of adverse outcomes for scientific, regulatory, and clinical purposes. Despite advances in measurement capabilities for miRNAs, miRNAs are still not routinely employed as noninvasive biomarkers. This is in part due to the lack of standard approaches for sample preparation and miRNA measurement and uncertainty in their biological interpretation. Members of the microRNA Biomarkers Workgroup within the Health and Environmental Sciences Institute’s (HESI) Committee on Emerging Systems Toxicology for the Assessment of Risk (eSTAR) are a consortium of private- and public-sector scientists dedicated to developing miRNAs as applied biomarkers. Here, we explore major impediments to routine acceptance and use of miRNA biomarkers and case examples of successes and deficiencies in development. Finally, we provide insight on miRNA measurement, collection, and analysis tools to provide solid footing for addressing knowledge gaps toward routine biomarker use.
Full text online: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/full/10.1080/10408444.2021.1907530