MedicalResearch.com Interview with:
Dr. Steven D. Hicks, M.D., Ph.D
Penn State Health
MedicalResearch.com: What is the background for this study? What are the main findings?
Response: Previous research has shown that small epigenetic molecules called microRNAs are altered in the blood after a traumatic brain injury. Our own pilot research showed that microRNAs were also changed in the saliva after brain injury and that some of these changes mirrored changes in cerebrospinal fluid. In this study we investigated whether salivary microRNA patterns after a concussion could be used to predict the duration and character of symptoms one month after injury.
We found that levels of five microRNAs predicted presence of symptoms one month later with greater accuracy (~85%) than standard surveys of symptom burden (~65%). Interestingly, one of the predictive salivary microRNAs (miR-320c) targets pathways involved in synaptic plasticity and was significantly correlated with attention difficulties one month after concussive injury.
Response: Salivary microRNAs may provide a unique window into brain health. Further study of these molecules is certainly warranted, but rapid, non-invasive measurement of salivary microRNA biomarkers has the potential to transform clinical care.
MedicalResearch.com: What recommendations do you have for future research as a result of this study?
Response: Future studies will need to establish the kinetics of salivary microRNA expression following concussion and investigate the influence of confounding variables such as diet or exercise. These results will need to be validated in a large external cohort before they can be applied in clinical practice.
Disclosures: This work was funded in part by Quadrant Biosciences, for whom I serve as a paid consultant.
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Jeremiah J. Johnson, Andrea C. Loeffert, Jennifer Stokes, Robert P. Olympia, Harry Bramley, Steven D. Hicks. Association of Salivary MicroRNA Changes With Prolonged Concussion Symptoms. JAMA Pediatr. Published online November 20, 2017. doi:10.1001/jamapediatrics.2017.3884
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