Children’s Urinary miRNAS as Biomarkers

Children’s Urinary miRNAS as Biomarkers of Early Life Metal Exposure

Toxic metals including cadmium (Cd), mercury (Hg), and lead (Pb) are known renal toxicants in adults; however, their renal toxicity in developing children is understudied. Principal investigator Alison P Sanders, PhD, was awarded $70,000 in October to investigate and compare miRNA expression in children’s whole urine and urinary exosomes, and determine whether early life toxic metal exposure contributes to altered miRNA expression.


“To accomplish our goals, we’ve leveraged an existing and established longitudinal birth cohort in Mexico City – the Programming Research in Obesity, Growth Environment and Social Stress (PROGRESS) study – which has measured prenatal and childhood levels of metals (Cd, Hg, and Pb) longitudinally in blood and nails, and collected urine from mother-child pairs at each visit.”

– Alison P. Sanders, PhD

Dr. Sanders is joined by co-investigators and CEHC faculty Robert Wright, MD, MPH and Chris Gennings, PhD and Professor and Chair of Pediatrics at Mount Sinai Hospital Lisa Satlin, MD.

Prenatal and early childhood are potential susceptibility windows for renal toxic metals as these life stages are associated with development and differentiation of renal transport systems. Urinary microRNAs (miRNAs) serve as early biomarkers of renal health, and may mediate metal-associated health effects.

This work will advance our ability to assess miRNAs as biomarkers and/or specific mechanisms that may contribute to metal-altered pathophysiology of renal health. This research will provide substantial pilot data for future R01 applications to assess the functional impacts of early life metal exposure on miRNAs that may mediate renal/cardiovascular outcomes, and lead to future interventions designed to prevent or treat renaltoxic metal exposure.