Highly sensitive detection of elevated exosomal miRNA levels using an aptamer-functionalized SERS-sandwich assay

MicroRNA (miRNA), which is involved in multiple critical cellular processes, is released from the cells of damaged organs in cellular vesicles, commonly known as exosomes. Specifically, exosomal miR-122 is reported to be actively involved in radiation-actuated rectal and hepatic injuries or inflammation. Researchers from the Hefei Institutes of Physical Science have developed a surface-enhanced Raman spectroscopy (SERS) assay for the quantitative and targeted detection of exosomal miR-122 in mice after drug/radiation treatments. In particular, an aptamer-functionalized magnetic capturing element and Au shell nanoparticle (NP)-based SERS tags were utilized, which upon recognition of the target miRNA constituted a “sandwich” formation, with which an 8 fM limit of detection (LOD) could be achieved. Using this SERS assay, the researchers further found that radiation injury led to the elevated expression of exosomal miR-122 in mice at 4 h postirradiation, confirmed by the quantitative real-time PCR method. It was demonstrated that the drug-induced hepatic inflammation could also be assessed via detecting miR-122 using this SERS method. As such, this work has demonstrated the achievement of a highly selective and sensitive probe of exosomal miRNA, which may thus open a gateway for promising usage in drug/radiation-induced inflammation.

Muhammad M, Shao CS, Liu C, Huang Q. (2021) Highly Sensitive Detection of Elevated Exosomal miR-122 Levels in Radiation Injury and Hepatic Inflammation Using an Aptamer-Functionalized SERS-Sandwich Assay. ACS Appl Bio Mater [Epub ahead of print]. [abstract]

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