Current COVID-19 pandemic poses an unprecedented threat to global health and healthcare systems. The most amount of the death toll is accounted by old people affected by age-related diseases that develop a hyper-inflammatory syndrome. In this regard, we hypothesized that COVID-19 severity may be linked to inflammaging. Here, we examined 30 serum samples from patients enrolled in the clinical trial NCT04315480 assessing the clinical response to a single-dose intravenous infusion of the anti-IL-6 receptor drug Tocilizumab (TCZ) in COVID-19 patients with multifocal interstitial pneumonia. In these serum samples, as well as in 29 age- and gender-matched healthy control subjects, we assessed a set of microRNAs that regulate inflammaging, i.e. miR-146a-5p, miR-21-5p, and miR-126-3p, which were quantified by RT-PCR and Droplet Digital PCR. We showed that COVID-19 patients who did not respond to TCZ have lower serum levels of miR-146a-5p after the treatment (p = 0.007). Among non-responders, those with the lowest serum levels of miR-146a-5p experienced the most adverse outcome (p = 0.008). Our data show that a blood-based biomarker, such as miR-146a-5p, can provide clues about the molecular link between inflammaging and COVID-19 clinical course, thus allowing to better understand the use of biologic drug armory against this worldwide health threat.
Copyright © 2020. Published by Elsevier B.V.