Peripheral blood is routinely used for RNA expression studies. However, blood is a challenging tissue for studying gene expression due to the fact that blood has a variety of components, composed of plasma and multiple cell subsets (i.e., leukocytes, platelets, red blood cells). Most genome-wide expression studies of blood are based on analysis of leukocytes, because the leukocytes are able to recruit and migrate into the site of injury within the brain. Recently, circulating cell-free plasma RNAs have received more and more attentions for clinical applications, since increasing evidence supports that the release of RNA into plasma may be mediated by microvesicles and exosomes coming from cells undergoing necrosis and apoptosis, though the definite origin and release mechanisms of plasma RNA remain incompletely understood. Blood genomic studies will provide diagnostic, prognostic, and therapeutic markers and will advance our understanding of brain ischemia, hemorrhage, and trauma in humans. New techniques to measure all coding and noncoding RNAs along with alternatively spliced transcripts will markedly advance molecular studies of these acute brain injuries.
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