Kenneth W. Witwer

Kenneth W. Witwer

The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine,USA

Title: Influence of food intake on circulating extracellular vesicles and microRNA profiles


Kenneth W. Witwer earned his doctorate in the Biochemistry, Cellular and Molecular Biology Program at Johns Hopkins University, supported by a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Molecular and Comparative Pathobiology, also at Johns Hopkins, and joined the faculty in 2011. Dr. Witwer’s work on innate and intrinsic immune responses to retroviral infection has been recognized with several young investigator awards.


Circulating microRNAs (miRNAs) have provoked intense interest as potential diagnostic or prognostic biomarkers for a wide variety of diseases, from cancers to sepsis. Dietary influence on circulating miRNA profiles—including the potential direct contribution of dietary miRNAs—has received comparatively less attention but could profoundly influence our understanding of proposed biomarkers, since qualitative and quantitative diet alterations have been reported in association with, e.g., cancers and infectious disease. Here, the evidence for direct and indirect influences of diet on circulating miRNA profiles is presented and reviewed. The influence of food intake and fasting on circulating biological nanoparticle carriers of miRNAs was assessed by nanoparticle tracking analysis (NTA), which was used to quantitate and characterize small (<500 nm) particles in serial pre- and post-prandial (1, 4, and 12 hour) plasma samples from an animal model. MicroRNAs were isolated from the same samples and profiled using low-density qPCR arrays. Correlation analyses were then performed to determine the relationship of food intake with proposed miRNA biomarkers and concentrations of miRNA-containing extracellular vehicles.