Purpose: Epidemiological studies and clinical trials support the association of nut consumption with a lower risk of prevalent non-communicable diseases, particularly cardiovascular disease. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying nut benefits remain to be fully described. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression and play a pivotal role in health and disease. Exosomes are extracellular vesicles released from cells and mediate intercellular communication. Whether nut consumption modulates circulating miRNAs (c-miRNAs) transported in exosomes is poorly described.
Methods: Cognitively healthy elderly subjects were randomized to either control (n = 110, abstaining from walnuts) or daily supplementation with walnuts (15% of their total energy, ≈30-60 g/day, n = 101) for 1-year. C-miRNAs were screened in exosomes isolated from 10 samples, before and after supplementation, and identified c-miRNA candidates were validated in the whole cohort. In addition, nanoparticle tracking analysis and lipidomics were assessed in pooled exosomes from the whole cohort.
Results: Exosomal hsa-miR-32-5p and hsa-miR-29b-3p were consistently induced by walnut consumption. No major changes in exosomal lipids, nanoparticle concentration or size were found.
Conclusion: Our results provide novel evidence that certain c-miRNAs transported in exosomes are modulated by walnut consumption. The extent to which this finding contributes to the benefits of walnuts deserves further research.