MicroRNA Expression in Neonates with Late-onset Sepsis - A Cross-sectional Comparative Study

Immunol Invest. 2022 Jan 14;1-13. doi: 10.1080/08820139.2021.2020282. Online ahead of print.


Background: Neonatal sepsis is a major health concern among neonates with higher morbidity and mortality rate. Studies have recently speculated the importance of differential expression of circulating mature micro-RNAs (miRNAs) which could serve as diagnostic as well as prognostic markers for risk of mortality in neonatal sepsis. This study aimed to analyze the expression pattern and to assess the diagnostic/prognostic value of miRNAs miR-21, miR-29a miR-31, miR-146a, and miR-155 in late-onset neonatal sepsis.

Methods: A cross-sectional comparative study was conducted including 42 healthy controls and 42 neonates with late-onset neonatal sepsis. SYBR green-based miScript RT-PCR assay was used for the expression analysis and the comparative Ct method 2-delta (Ct) method was used for relative quantification of the candidate miRNAs in plasma. Significantly higher expression of miR-21 and miR-155 and lower expression of miR-29a and miR-146a was observed in cases compared to control except miR-31. In subgroups analysis, miR-21(p = .03) showed a significant difference between pre-term and term neonates and miR-31 (p = .01) and miR-155 (p = .03) showed a significant difference between low-birth-weight and normal-birth-weight neonates. miR-146a showed significantly lower expression in the non-survivor group compared to the survivor group (p = .005). A receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) analysis of miR-21 and miR-29a (0.829 and 0.787 AUC of ROC curves) showed good discrimination for the identification of sepsis from non-sepsis neonates.

Conclusion: The current study shows evidence of differential expression of miRNAs in neonatal sepsis and this altered expression of candidate miRNAs could be involved in immune dysregulation, thus leading to sepsis-related severity in newborns.

Keywords: Biomarker; Neonatal sepsis; late-onset neonatal sepsis; micro RNA.