There is a limited understanding of the pathophysiology of postacute pulmonary sequelae in severe COVID-19. The aim of current study was to define the circulating microRNA (miRNA) profiles associated with pulmonary function and radiologic features in survivors of SARS-CoV-2-induced ARDS. The study included patients who developed ARDS secondary to SARS-CoV-2 infection (n = 167) and a group of infected patients who did not develop ARDS (n = 33). Patients were evaluated 3 months after hospital discharge. The follow-up included a complete pulmonary evaluation and chest computed tomography. Plasma miRNA profiling was performed using RT-qPCR. Random forest was used to construct miRNA signatures associated with lung diffusing capacity for carbon monoxide (DLCO
) and total severity score (TSS). Kyoto Encyclopedia of Genes and Genomes (KEGG) and Gene Ontology (GO) enrichment analyses were conducted. DLCO
< 80% predicted was observed in 81.8% of the patients. TSS showed a median [P25
] of 5 [2;8]. The miRNA model associated with DLCO
comprised miR-17-5p, miR-27a-3p, miR-126-3p, miR-146a-5p and miR-495-3p. Concerning radiologic features, a miRNA signature composed by miR-9-5p, miR-21-5p, miR-24-3p and miR-221-3p correlated with TSS values. These associations were not observed in the non-ARDS group. KEGG pathway and GO enrichment analyses provided evidence of molecular mechanisms related not only to profibrotic or anti-inflammatory states but also to cell death, immune response, hypoxia, vascularization, coagulation and viral infection. In conclusion, diffusing capacity and radiological features in survivors from SARS-CoV-2-induced ARDS are associated with specific miRNA profiles. These findings provide novel insights into the possible molecular pathways underlying the pathogenesis of pulmonary sequelae.Trial registration:
ClinicalTrials.gov identifier: NCT04457505
ISRCTN.org identifier: ISRCTN16865246.