Saliva microRNA Profile in Children with and without Severe SARS-CoV-2 Infection

Steven D. Hicks, Dongxiao Zhu, Rhea Sullivan, Nirupama Kannikeswaran, Kathleen Meert, Wei Chen, Srinivasan Suresh, Usha Sethuraman

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Severe acute respiratory syndrome corona virus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) may impair immune modulating host microRNAs, causing severe disease. Our objectives were to determine the salivary miRNA profile in children with SARS-CoV-2 infection at presentation and compare the expression in those with and without severe outcomes. Children <18 years with SARS-CoV-2 infection evaluated at two hospitals between March 2021 and February 2022 were prospectively enrolled. Severe outcomes included respiratory failure, shock or death. Saliva microRNAs were quantified with RNA sequencing. Data on 197 infected children (severe = 45) were analyzed. Of the known human miRNAs, 1606 (60%) were measured and compared across saliva samples. There were 43 miRNAs with ≥2-fold difference between severe and non-severe cases (adjusted p-value < 0.05). The majority (31/43) were downregulated in severe cases. The largest between-group differences involved miR-4495, miR-296-5p, miR-548ao-3p and miR-1273c. These microRNAs displayed enrichment for 32 gene ontology pathways including viral processing and transforming growth factor beta and Fc-gamma receptor signaling. In conclusion, salivary miRNA levels are perturbed in children with severe COVID-19, with the majority of miRNAs being down regulated. Further studies are required to validate and determine the utility of salivary miRNAs as biomarkers of severe COVID-19.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number8175
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number9
StatePublished - May 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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