Biomarkers that predict who among recently Mycobacterium tuberculosis (MTB)-exposed individuals will progress to active tuberculosis are urgently needed. Intracellular microRNAs (miRNAs) regulate the host response to MTB and circulating miRNAs (c-miRNAs) have been developed as biomarkers for other diseases. We performed machine-learning analysis of c-miRNA measurements in the serum of adult household contacts (HHCs) of TB index cases from South Africa and Uganda and developed a c-miRNA-based signature of risk for progression to active TB. This c-miRNA-based signature significantly discriminated HHCs within 6 months of progression to active disease from HHCs that remained healthy in an independent test set [ROC area under the ROC curve (AUC) 0.74, progressors < 6 Mo to active TB and ROC AUC 0.66, up to 24 Mo to active TB], and complements the predictions of a previous cellular mRNA-based signature of TB risk.
Keywords: biomarker; correlate of risk; household contact; machine learning; microRNA; tuberculosis.