MicroRNA Signature of Traumatic Brain Injury: From the Biomarker Discovery to the Point-of-Care

Valentina Di Pietro, Kamal Yakoub, Ugo Scarpa, Cinza Di Pietro, Antonio Belli

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

21 Citations (Scopus)
212 Downloads (Pure)


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is a serious problem that causes high morbidity and mortality around the world. Currently, no reliable biomarkers are used to assess the severity and predict the recovery. Many protein biomarkers were extensively studied for diagnosis and prognosis of different TBI severities such as S-100β, glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP), neuron-specific enolase (NSE), neurofilament light chain (NFL), cleaved tau protein (C-tau), and ubiquitin C-terminal hydrolase-L1 (UCH-L1). However, none of these candidates is currently used in the clinical practice, due to relatively low sensitivity, for the diagnosis of mild TBI (mTBI) or mild to moderate TBI (MMTBI) patients who are clinically well and do not have a detectable intracranial pathology on the scans. MicroRNAs (miRNAs or miRs) are a class of small endogenous molecular regulators, which showed to be altered in different pathologies, including TBI and for this reason, their potential role in diagnosis, prognosis and therapeutic applications, is explored. Promising miRNAs such as miR-21, miR-16 or let-7i were identified as suitable candidate biomarkers for TBI and can differentiate mild from severe TBI. Also, they might represent new potential therapeutic targets. Identification of miRNA signature in tissue or biofluids, for several pathological conditions, is now possible thanks to the introduction of new high-throughput technologies such as microarray platform, Nanostring technologies or Next Generation Sequencing. This review has the aim to describe the role of microRNA in TBI and to explore the most commonly used techniques to identify microRNA profile. Understanding the strengths and limitations of the different methods can aid in the practical use of miRNA profiling for diverse clinical applications, including the development of a point-of-care device.

Original languageEnglish
Article number429
JournalFrontiers in neurology
Issue number429
Publication statusPublished - 14 Jun 2018


  • traumatic brain injury
  • biomarkers
  • microRNA
  • diagnosis
  • prognosis
  • therapy
  • high-throughput technology
  • point-of-care


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