Small RNA-seq during acute maximal exercise reveal RNAs involved in vascular inflammation and cardiometabolic health: brief report

UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine; UMass Metabolic Network

Publication Date


Document Type



Biochemistry | Cell Biology | Cellular and Molecular Physiology | Exercise Physiology | Molecular Biology


Exercise improves cardiometabolic and vascular function, although the mechanisms remain unclear. Our objective was to demonstrate the diversity of circulating extracellular RNA (ex-RNA) release during acute exercise in humans and its relevance to exercise-mediated benefits on vascular inflammation. We performed plasma small RNA sequencing in 26 individuals undergoing symptom-limited maximal treadmill exercise, with replication of our top candidate miRNA in a separate cohort of 59 individuals undergoing bicycle ergometry. We found changes in miRNAs and other ex-RNAs with exercise (e.g., Y RNAs and tRNAs) implicated in cardiovascular disease. In two independent cohorts of acute maximal exercise, we identified miR-181b-5p as a key ex-RNA increased in plasma after exercise, with validation in a separate cohort. In a mouse model of acute exercise, we found significant increases in miR-181b-5p expression in skeletal muscle after acute exercise in young (but not older) mice. Previous work revealed a strong role for miR-181b-5p in vascular inflammation in obesity, insulin resistance, sepsis, and cardiovascular disease. We conclude that circulating ex-RNAs were altered in plasma after acute exercise target pathways involved in inflammation, including miR-181b-5p. Further investigation into the role of known (e.g., miRNA) and novel (e.g., Y RNAs) RNAs is warranted to uncover new mechanisms of vascular inflammation on exercise-mediated benefits on health.NEW and NOTEWORTHY How exercise provides benefits to cardiometabolic health remains unclear. We performed RNA sequencing in plasma during exercise to identify the landscape of small noncoding circulating transcriptional changes. Our results suggest a link between inflammation and exercise, providing rich data on circulating noncoding RNAs for future studies by the scientific community.

DOI of Published Version



Am J Physiol Heart Circ Physiol. 2017 Dec 1;313(6):H1162-H1167. doi: 10.1152/ajpheart.00500.2017. Epub 2017 Sep 15. Link to article on publisher's site

Journal/Book/Conference Title

American journal of physiology. Heart and circulatory physiology


Full list of authors omitted for brevity. For full list see article.

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