UMMS Affiliation

Department of Medicine, Division of Cardiovascular Medicine; Department of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences; Department of Pediatrics, Division of Pulmonary Medicine; Horae Gene Therapy Center

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Cardiovascular Diseases | Genetics and Genomics | Molecular Biology | Nucleic Acids, Nucleotides, and Nucleosides | Population Biology | Respiratory System | Respiratory Tract Diseases


The presence of nonhuman RNAs in man has been questioned and it is unclear if food-derived miRNAs cross into the circulation. In a large population study, we found nonhuman miRNAs in plasma by RNA sequencing and validated a small number of pine-pollen miRNAs by RT-qPCR in 2,776 people. The presence of these pine-pollen miRNAs associated with hay fever and not with overt cardiovascular or pulmonary disease. Using in vivo and in vitro models, we found that transmission of pollen-miRNAs into the circulation occurs via pulmonary transfer and this transfer was mediated by platelet-pulmonary vascular cell interactions and platelet pollen-DNA uptake. These data demonstrate that pollen-derived plant miRNAs can be horizontally transferred into the circulation via the pulmonary system in humans. Although these data suggest mechanistic plausibility for pulmonary-mediated plant-derived miRNA transfer into the human circulation, our large observational cohort data do not implicate major disease or risk factor association.


Biological Sciences, Molecular Biology, Omics, Transcriptomics

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Copyright 2019 The Author(s). This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (

DOI of Published Version



iScience. 2019 Sep 27;19:916-926. doi: 10.1016/j.isci.2019.08.035. Epub 2019 Aug 24. Link to article on publisher's site

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-No Derivative Works 4.0 License.