Background/objectives: The objective of this study was to evaluate the utility of circulating miRNAs as biomarkers of vascular function in pediatric pulmonary hypertension.
Method: Fourteen pediatric pulmonary arterial hypertension patients underwent simultaneous right heart catheterization (RHC) and blood biochemical analysis. Univariate and stepwise multivariate linear regression was used to identify and correlate measures of reactive and resistive afterload with circulating miRNA levels. Furthermore, circulating miRNA candidates that classified patients according to a 20% decrease in resistive afterload in response to oxygen (O2) or inhaled nitric oxide (iNO) were identified using receiver-operating curves.
Results: Thirty-two circulating miRNAs correlated with the pulmonary vascular resistance index (PVRi), pulmonary arterial distensibility, and PVRi decrease in response to O2 and/or iNO. Multivariate models, combining the predictive capability of multiple promising miRNA candidates, revealed a good correlation with resistive (r = 0.97, P2-tailed < 0.0001) and reactive (r = 0.86, P2-tailed < 0.005) afterloads. Bland-Altman plots showed that 95% of the differences between multivariate models and RHC would fall within 0.13 (mmHg-min/L)m2 and 0.0085/mmHg for resistive and reactive afterloads, respectively. Circulating miR-663 proved to be a good classifier for vascular responsiveness to acute O2 and iNO challenges.
Conclusion: This study suggests that circulating miRNAs may be biomarkers to phenotype vascular function in pediatric PAH.