High-throughput profiling for discovery of non-coding RNA biomarkers of lung disease.
In respiratory medicine there is a need for clinical biomarkers for diagnosis, prognosis and assessment of response to therapy. Noncoding RNA (ncRNA) is expressed in all human cells; two major classes - long ncRNA and microRNA - are detectable extracellularly in the circulation and other biofluids. Altered ncRNA expression is associated with lung disease; collectively this indicates that ncRNA represents a potential biomarker class. This article presents and compares existing platforms for detection and quantification of ncRNA, specifically hybridization, qRT-PCR and RNA sequencing, and outlines methods for data interpretation and normalization. Each approach has merits and shortcomings, which can affect the choice of method when embarking on a biomarker study. Biomarker properties and pre-analytical considerations for ncRNA profiling are also presented. Since a variety of profiling approaches are available, careful study and experimental design are important. Finally, challenges and goals for reliable, standardized high-throughput ncRNA profiling in biofluids as lung disease biomarkers are reviewed.