DOI: 10.3390/cells10123504">

Identifying putative causal links between microRNAs and severe COVID-19 using Mendelian randomization

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The SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) pandemic has caused millions of deaths worldwide. Early risk assessment of COVID-19 cases can help direct early treatment measures that have been shown to improve the prognosis of severe cases. Currently, circulating miRNAs have not been evaluated as canonical COVID-19 biomarkers, and identifying biomarkers that have a causal relationship with COVID-19 is imperative. To bridge these gaps, we aim to examine the causal effects of miRNAs on COVID-19 severity in this study using two-sample Mendelian randomization approaches. Multiple studies with available GWAS summary statistics data were retrieved. Using circulating miRNA expression data as exposure, and severe COVID-19 cases as outcomes, we identified ten unique miRNAs that showed causality across three phenotype groups of COVID-19. Using expression data from an independent study, we validated and identified two high-confidence miRNAs, namely, hsa-miR-30a-3p and hsa-miR-139-5p, which have putative causal effects on developing cases of severe COVID-19. Using existing literature and publicly available databases, the potential causative roles of these miRNAs were investigated. This study provides a novel way of utilizing miRNA eQTL data to help us identify potential miRNA biomarkers to make better and early diagnoses and risk assessments of severe COVID-19 cases.

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DOI: 10.3390/cells10123504