Infant Saliva Levels of microRNA miR-151a-3p Are Associated with Risk for Neurodevelopmental Delay

Steven D. Hicks, Alexandra Confair

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Prompt recognition of neurodevelopmental delay is critical for optimizing developmental trajectories. Currently, this is achieved with caregiver questionnaires whose sensitivity and specificity can be limited by socioeconomic and cultural factors. This prospective study of 121 term infants tested the hypothesis that microRNA measurement could aid early recognition of infants at risk for neurodevelopmental delay. Levels of four salivary microRNAs implicated in childhood autism (miR-125a-5p, miR-148a-5p, miR-151a-3p, miR-28-3p) were measured at 6 months of age, and compared between infants who displayed risk for neurodevelopmental delay at 18 months (n = 20) and peers with typical development (n = 101), based on clinical evaluation aided by the Survey of Wellbeing in Young Children (SWYC). Accuracy of microRNAs for predicting neurodevelopmental concerns at 18 months was compared to the clinical standard (9-month SWYC). Infants with neurodevelopmental concerns at 18 months displayed higher levels of miR-125a-5p (d = 0.30, p = 0.018, adj p = 0.049), miR-151a-3p (d = 0.30, p = 0.017, adj p = 0.048), and miR-28-3p (d = 0.31, p = 0.014, adj p = 0.048). Levels of miR-151a-3p were associated with an 18-month SWYC score (R = −0.19, p = 0.021) and probability of neurodevelopmental delay at 18 months (OR = 1.91, 95% CI, 1.14–3.19). Salivary levels of miR-151a-3p enhanced predictive accuracy for future neurodevelopmental delay (p = 0.010, X2 = 6.71, AUC = 0.71) compared to the 9-month SWYC score alone (OR = 0.56, 95% CI, 0.20–1.58, AUC = 0.567). This pilot study provides evidence that miR-151a-3p may aid the identification of infants at risk for neurodevelopmental delay. External validation of these findings is necessary.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number1476
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number2
StatePublished - Jan 2023

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Catalysis
  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry
  • Inorganic Chemistry

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