November 11, 2019
1 min read

Study identifies markers for pneumonia complications

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Francisco Sanz
Francisco Sanz

Researchers have found three microRNAs that may predict respiratory failure and sepsis among patients with community-acquired pneumonia.

Francisco Sanz, MD, PhD, pulmonologist from Hospital General Universitario de Valencia, Spain, and colleagues used real-time polymerase chain reaction techniques to identify the microRNAs in blood samples taken from patients with community-acquired pneumonia at the time of hospital admission.

“The main motivation for this study was to know if there were biological markers for specific clinical complications in pneumonia,” Sanz, who presented the findings at the European Respiratory Society International Congress, told Healio Pulmonology.

The observational, prospective study included 169 patients with a mean age of 67 years. Comorbidities were common, with 29% having diabetes, 28% having COPD and 14% having an irregular heartbeat.

Of patients included in the study, 64.5% developed complications, including 25.4% who developed acute hypoxemic respiratory failure and 13.6% who developed severe sepsis. Nearly 4% of patients died after hospital admission.

In their analysis, the researchers found that three microRNAs with known involvement in lung systemic inflammatory processes were able to predict these complications with high accuracy. Specifically, microRNA-223 was able to predict the onset of sepsis with 78% accuracy, microRNA-574 was able to predict respiratory failure with 77% accuracy and microRNA-182 was able to predict both sepsis and respiratory failure with 83% and 76% accuracy, respectively.

Researchers have found three microRNAs that may predict respiratory failure and sepsis among patients with community-acquired pneumonia.
Source: Adobe Stock

The fact that Sanz and colleagues were able predict the presence of sepsis or acute respiratory failure with a single molecule was surprising, according to Sanz.

“We believe that our study has two potential applications: One is that these markers could be used to predict the prognosis of pneumonia and another is that these findings could open new lines of research regarding host-directed therapy,” he said.

Sanz added that he hopes other investigators will be able to replicate these results in the future to validate the findings. – by Melissa Foster


Sanz F, et al. Abstract PA5449. Presented at: European Respiratory Society International Congress; Sept. 28-Oct. 2, 2019; Madrid.

For more information:

Francisco Sanz, MD, PhD, can be reached at

Disclosure: Sanz reports no relevant financial disclosures.