Presence of filterable and nonfilterable mRNA in the plasma of cancer patients and healthy individuals

Enders K.O. Ng, Nancy B.Y. Tsui, Nicole Y.L. Lam, Rossa W.K. Chiu, Simon C.H. Yu, Sze Chuen Cesar Wong, Elena S.F. Lo, Timothy H. Rainer, Philip J. Johnson, Y. M.Dennis Lo

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

250 Citations (Scopus)


Background: As RNA is labile, we investigated whether circulating RNA in human plasma may be present in a particle-associated form. Methods: Blood was collected from 27 healthy individuals and 16 hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) patients. The plasma from each individual was processed by two means: filtration through filters with different pore sizes (from 5 μm to 0.22 μm) and ultracentrifugation. We assessed plasma RNA content by a real-time quantitative reverse transcription-PCR assay for glyceraldehyde-3-phosphate dehydrogenase (GAPDH) transcripts and plasma DNA by a real-time quantitative PCR assay for the β-globin gene. Results: The plasma GAPDH mRNA concentrations in the healthy individuals were significantly different in every pair of these filter sizes (P <0.05 for each pair). Overall, the plasma GAPDH mRNA concentration was higher by a median of 15-fold (interquartile range, 10- to 24-fold) in the paired unfiltered sample than in the sample filtered through a 0.22 μm filter. In contrast, no significant difference was seen in β-globin DNA concentrations among different pore-size-filtered plasma samples (P = 0.455). Similarly, a significant difference was observed for RNA, but not DNA, between unfiltered plasma and ultracentrifuged plasma (P <0.05). No significant difference in GAPDH mRNA concentrations was seen between the 0.22-μm-filtered plasma samples and the ultracentrifuged plasma samples (P >0.05). In HCC patients, filtration with a 0.22 μm filter produced a median 9.3-fold (interquartile range, 6.9- to 311-fold) reduction in GAPDH mRNA concentration in plasma. Plasma GAPDH mRNA concentrations in HCC patients were significantly higher than those in healthy individuals, both with or without filtration (P <0.05 for filtered plasma samples; P <0.005 for unfiltered plasma sampies). Conclusions: A substantial proportion of plasma mRNA species is particle-associated. In HCC patients, both circulating particle- and non-particle-associated plasma RNA are increased.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1212-1217
Number of pages6
JournalClinical Chemistry
Issue number8
Publication statusPublished - 5 Aug 2002
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Biochemistry
  • Biochemistry, medical


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