Association of miR-144 levels in the peripheral blood with COVID-19 severity and mortality

Sci Rep. 2022 Nov 21;12(1):20048. doi: 10.1038/s41598-022-23922-2.


Coronavirus disease-2019 (COVID-19) can be asymptomatic or lead to a wide symptom spectrum, including multi-organ damage and death. Here, we explored the potential of microRNAs in delineating patient condition and predicting clinical outcome. Plasma microRNA profiling of hospitalized COVID-19 patients showed that miR-144-3p was dynamically regulated in response to COVID-19. Thus, we further investigated the biomarker potential of miR-144-3p measured at admission in 179 COVID-19 patients and 29 healthy controls recruited in three centers. In hospitalized patients, circulating miR-144-3p levels discriminated between non-critical and critical illness (AUCmiR-144-3p = 0.71; p = 0.0006), acting also as mortality predictor (AUCmiR-144-3p = 0.67; p = 0.004). In non-hospitalized patients, plasma miR-144-3p levels discriminated mild from moderate disease (AUCmiR-144-3p = 0.67; p = 0.03). Uncontrolled release of pro-inflammatory cytokines can lead to clinical deterioration. Thus, we explored the added value of a miR-144/cytokine combined analysis in the assessment of hospitalized COVID-19 patients. A miR-144-3p/Epidermal Growth Factor (EGF) combined score discriminated between non-critical and critical hospitalized patients (AUCmiR-144-3p/EGF = 0.81; p < 0.0001); moreover, a miR-144-3p/Interleukin-10 (IL-10) score discriminated survivors from nonsurvivors (AUCmiR-144-3p/IL-10 = 0.83; p < 0.0001). In conclusion, circulating miR-144-3p, possibly in combination with IL-10 or EGF, emerges as a noninvasive tool for early risk-based stratification and mortality prediction in COVID-19.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers / blood
  • COVID-19* / diagnosis
  • COVID-19* / mortality
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • Humans
  • Interleukin-10
  • MicroRNAs* / blood


  • Biomarkers
  • Epidermal Growth Factor
  • Interleukin-10
  • MicroRNAs
  • MIRN144 microRNA, human