Comparison of reproducibility, accuracy, sensitivity, and specificity of miRNA quantification platforms


Given the increasing interest in their use as disease biomarkers, the establishment of reproducible, accurate, sensitive, and specific platforms for microRNA (miRNA) quantification in biofluids is of high priority. A team led by researchers at Washington University in Saint Louis compare four platforms for these characteristics: small RNA sequencing (RNA-seq), FirePlex, EdgeSeq, and nCounter. For a pool of synthetic miRNAs, coefficients of variation for technical replicates are lower for EdgeSeq (6.9%) and RNA-seq (8.2%) than for FirePlex (22.4%); nCounter replicates are not performed. Receiver operating characteristic analysis for distinguishing present versus absent miRNAs shows small RNA-seq (area under curve 0.99) is superior to EdgeSeq (0.97), nCounter (0.94), and FirePlex (0.81). Expected differences in expression of placenta-associated miRNAs in plasma from pregnant and non-pregnant women are observed with RNA-seq and EdgeSeq, but not FirePlex or nCounter. These results indicate that differences in performance among miRNA profiling platforms impact ability to detect biological differences among samples and thus their relative utility for research and clinical use.

Godoy PM, Barczak AJ, DeHoff P, Srinivasan S, Etheridge A, Galas D, Das S, Erle DJ, Laurent LC. (2019) Comparison of Reproducibility, Accuracy, Sensitivity, and Specificity of miRNA Quantification Platforms. Cell Rep 29(12):4212-4222.e5. [article]

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