Standardization procedure for plasma biomarker analysis in rat models of epileptogenesis: Focus on circulating microRNAs


The World Health Organization estimates that globally 2.4 million people are diagnosed with epilepsy each year. In nearly 30% of these cases, epilepsy cannot be properly controlled by antiepileptic drugs. More importantly, treatments to prevent or modify epileptogenesis do not exist. Therefore, novel therapies are urgently needed. In this respect, it is important to identify which patients will develop epilepsy and which individually tailored treatment is needed. However, currently, we have no tools to identify the patients at risk, and diagnosis of epileptogenesis remains as a major unmet medical need, which relates to lack of diagnostic biomarkers for epileptogenesis. As the epileptogenic process in humans is typically slow, the use of animal models is justified to speed up biomarker discovery. We aim to summarize recommendations for molecular biomarker research and propose a standardized procedure for biomarker discovery in rat models of epileptogenesis. The potential of many phylogenetically conserved circulating noncoding small RNAs, including microRNAs (miRNAs), as biomarkers has been explored in various brain diseases, including epilepsy. Recent studies show the feasibility of detecting miRNAs in blood in both experimental models and human epilepsy. However, the analysis of circulating miRNAs in rodent models is challenging, which relates both to the lack of standardized sampling protocols and to analysis of miRNAs. We will discuss the issues critical for preclinical plasma biomarker discovery, such as documentation, blood and brain tissue sampling and collection, plasma separation and storage, RNA extraction, quality control, and RNA detection. We propose a protocol for standardization of procedures for discovery of circulating miRNA biomarkers in rat models of epileptogenesis. Ultimately, we hope that the preclinical standardization will facilitate clinical biomarker discovery for epileptogenesis in man.