Detection of an abundant plant-based small RNA in healthy consumers

Jian Yang, Lisa M. Farmer, Abia A.A. Agyekum, Ismail Elbaz-Younes, Kendal D. Hirschi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

80 Scopus citations


The mechanisms of delivery of plant small RNAs to consumers must be investigated in order to harness this technology to positively impact biotechnology. Two groups have used honeysuckle (Lonicera japonica) feeding regimes to detect a plant-based small RNA, termed MIR2911, in sera. Meanwhile, numerous groups have failed to detect dietary plantbased small RNAs in consumers. Here we catalog levels of MIR2911 in different herbs, and suggest that in particular herb MIR2911 levels are elevated. Feeding these different herbbased diets to mice, we found MIR2911 levels in the sera and urine were associated with dietary intake levels. Abundance was not the sole determinate of apparent RNA bioavailability, as gavage-feeding large-doses of synthetic MIR2911 permitted only small transient increases in serum levels. Dietary MIR2911 were not modified in circulation by association with the host's RNA-induced silencing complex, as the RNA did not co-immunoprecipitate with AGO2. The stability of dietary MIR2911 in circulation differed from synthesized small RNAs, as tail vein administration of various synthetic plant-based small RNAs resulted in rapid clearance. However, synthetic MIR2911 appeared to be more stable than the other plant miRNAs tested. Notably, this uptake of dietary MIR2911 was not related to perturbations in the host's microbiome or gut permeability. We suggest dietary uptake of MIR2911 is commonplace in healthy consumers, and reproducible detection of plant-based small RNAs in consumers depends on dietary abundance, RNA stability and digestion from within the food-matrix.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere0137516
JournalPloS one
Issue number9
StatePublished - Sep 3 2015
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 Liu et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.


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