A simplified protocol for profiling heparin-contaminated circulating miRNAs: by microfluidic array

Jesse D. Armitage, Erin M. Bolitho, Yuben P. Moodley, Dino B.A. Tan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Peripheral blood is a valuable, non-invasive source of biomarkers which include circulating miRNAs. Using microfluidic array-based techniques, miRNAs can be successfully measured in small amounts of blood plasma (< 0.5 mL) using cDNA pre-amplification. However, the use of heparin-based anticoagulants for blood collection hinders the detection of circulating miRNAs due to its inhibitory effect on PCR components. Although pre-treatment with heparinase have been shown to overcome heparin contamination in blood, its effect has not been described in array-based analyses or more sensitive applications with smaller sample volumes (i.e. 200 μL plasma) requiring pre-amplification. We show that the treatment of miRNA extracted from heparinised plasma with an optimised concentration of Bacteroides heparinase I prior to cDNA pre-amplification dramatically improves the number of detectable miRNA from 2 to 67 targets on the TaqMan® Array Human MicroRNA Cards. Furthermore, the titrated amount of heparinase (3 U) gave the best miRNA detection compared to those used in previous studies (6–24 U). This study provides novel data which demonstrates that heparinase treatment is compatible with protocols that involve pre-amplification of cDNA and microfluidic array-based techniques. This an improved methodology that permits miRNA-based biomarker analysis from small volume of heparinised plasma.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)9973-9977
JournalMolecular Biology Reports
Publication statusPublished - 2020


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