MicroRNAs as Biomarkers of Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Type 1A


To determine whether microRNAs (miRs) are elevated in the plasma of individuals with the inherited peripheral neuropathy Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1A (CMT1A), miR profiling was employed to compare control and CMT1A plasma.


We performed a screen of CMT1A and control plasma samples to identify miRs that are elevated in CMT1A using next-generation sequencing, followed by validation of selected miRs by quantitative PCR, and correlation with protein biomarkers and clinical data: Rasch-modified CMT Examination and Neuropathy Scores, ulnar compound muscle action potentials, and motor nerve conduction velocities.


After an initial pilot screen, a broader screen confirmed elevated levels of several muscle-associated miRNAs (miR1, -133a, -133b, and -206, known as myomiRs) along with a set of miRs that are highly expressed in Schwann cells of peripheral nerve. Comparison to other candidate biomarkers for CMT1A (e.g., neurofilament light) measured on the same sample set shows a comparable elevation of several miRs (e.g., miR133a, -206, -223) and ability to discriminate cases from controls. Neurofilament light levels were most highly correlated with miR133a. In addition, the putative Schwann cell miRs (e.g., miR223, -199a, -328, -409, -431) correlate with the recently described transmembrane protease serine 5 (TMPRSS5) protein biomarker that is most highly expressed in Schwann cells and also elevated in CMT1A plasma.


These studies identify a set of miRs that are candidate biomarkers for clinical trials in CMT1A. Some of the miRs may reflect Schwann cell processes that underlie the pathogenesis of the disease.

Classification of Evidence

This study provides Class III evidence that a set of plasma miRs are elevated in patients with CMT1A.

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