Summary: Researchers uncovered an association between specific microRNAs and COVID-19 severity in a group of 259 unvaccinated patients. The team identified these microRNAs as crucial factors related to a weakened immune response and ICU admission.
This study provides the first genomic picture of blood microRNAs in COVID-19 patients from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia. The findings could pave the way for improved patient prognosis and treatment strategies, potentially benefitting approximately 30% of the global population.
Researchers created the first genomic blueprint of blood microRNAs in COVID-19 patients from MENA and South Asia.
They found early infection changes in microRNAs, affecting blood traits and aiding virus proliferation.
The study linked 97 miRNAs with eight blood phenotypes significantly tied to ICU admission.
A team of researchers at NYU Abu Dhabi, led by Associate Professor of Biology Youssef Idaghdour and working in collaboration with clinicians at several Abu Dhabi hospitals, investigated the association between microRNAs, a class of small RNA molecules that regulate genes, and COVID-19 severity among 259 unvaccinated COVID-19 patients living in Abu Dhabi. The team identified microRNAs that are associated with a weakened immune response and admission to ICU.
During this process, they created the first genomic picture of the architecture of blood microRNAs in unvaccinated COVID-19 patients from the Middle East, North Africa, and South Asia regions whose populations are consistently underrepresented in genomics research.
The researchers identified changes in microRNAs at the early stages of infection that are associated with specific blood traits and immune cell death, allowing the virus to evade the immune system and proliferate.
The results of the system’s genetics study demonstrate that a patient’s genetic make-up affects immune function and disease severity, offering new insights into how patient prognosis and treatment can be improved.
Given the diversity of the sample, there is promise that these findings can be applied to approximately 30% of the world’s population who reside in the MENA region and South Asia.
In the study titled “Systems genetics identifies miRNA‑mediated regulation of host response in COVID‑19,” published in the journal Human Genomics, the research team presents the results of the analysis of multiple omics datasets—genotypes, miRNA, and mRNA expression of patients at the time of hospital admission, combined with phenotypes from electronic health records.
The researchers analyzed 62 clinical variables and expression levels of 632 miRNAs measured at hospital admission, as well as identified 97 miRNAs associated with eight blood phenotypes significantly associated with ICU admission.
“These findings improve our understanding of why some patients withstand COVID-19 better than others,” said Idaghdour.
“This study demonstrates that microRNAs are promising biomarkers for disease severity, more broadly, and targets for therapeutic interventions.
“The methods of this study can be applied to other populations to further our understanding of how gene regulation can serve as a core mechanism that impacts COVID-19 and, potentially, severity of other infections.”
About this genetics and COVID-19 research news
Author: Jonathan King Source: NYU Contact: Jonathan King – NYU Image: The image is credited to Neuroscience News
Systems genetics identifies miRNA‑mediated regulation of host response in COVID‑19
Individuals infected with SARS-CoV-2 vary greatly in their disease severity, ranging from asymptomatic infection to severe disease. The regulation of gene expression is an important mechanism in the host immune response and can modulate the outcome of the disease. miRNAs play important roles in post-transcriptional regulation with consequences on downstream molecular and cellular host immune response processes. The nature and magnitude of miRNA perturbations associated with blood phenotypes and intensive care unit (ICU) admission in COVID-19 are poorly understood.
We combined multi-omics profiling—genotyping, miRNA and RNA expression, measured at the time of hospital admission soon after the onset of COVID-19 symptoms—with phenotypes from electronic health records to understand how miRNA expression contributes to variation in disease severity in a diverse cohort of 259 unvaccinated patients in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
We analyzed 62 clinical variables and expression levels of 632 miRNAs measured at admission and identified 97 miRNAs associated with 8 blood phenotypes significantly associated with later ICU admission. Integrative miRNA-mRNA cross-correlation analysis identified multiple miRNA-mRNA-blood endophenotype associations and revealed the effect of miR-143-3p on neutrophil count mediated by the expression of its target gene BCL2. We report 168 significant cis-miRNA expression quantitative trait loci, 57 of which implicate miRNAs associated with either ICU admission or a blood endophenotype.
This systems genetics study has given rise to a genomic picture of the architecture of whole blood miRNAs in unvaccinated COVID-19 patients and pinpoints post-transcriptional regulation as a potential mechanism that impacts blood traits underlying COVID-19 severity. The results also highlight the impact of host genetic regulatory control of miRNA expression in early stages of COVID-19 disease.