Int J Med Sci 2016; 13(1):77-84. doi:10.7150/ijms.13301 This issue

Research Paper

Identification of microRNAs in Throat Swab as the Biomarkers for Diagnosis of Influenza

Fang Peng1, 2*, Jianan He2*, Jacky Fong Chuen Loo3*, Jingyu Yao4, Lei Shi2, Chunxiao Liu2, Chunzhong Zhao2, Weidong Xie5, Yonghong Shao6, Siu Kai Kong3✉, Dayong Gu1, 2✉

1. Department of Health Inspection and Quarantine, School of Public Health, Sun Yat-sen University, Guangzhou, China
2. Shenzhen Entry-exit Inspection and Quarantine Bureau, Shenzhen, China
3. Biochemistry Programme, School of Life Sciences, The Chinese University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China
4. Guangdong Medical University, Zhanjiang, China
5. Shenzhen Key Lab of Health Science and Technology, Division of Life Sciences & Health, Graduate School at Shenzhen, Tsinghua University, Shenzhen, China
6. College of Optoelectronics Engineering, Key Laboratory of Optoelectronic Devices and Systems, Ministry of Education and Guangdong Province, Shenzhen Key Laboratory of Sensor Technology, Shenzhen University, Shenzhen, China
* These authors contributed equally to this work.

This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution (CC BY-NC) License. See for full terms and conditions.
Peng F, He J, Loo JFC, Yao J, Shi L, Liu C, Zhao C, Xie W, Shao Y, Kong SK, Gu D. Identification of microRNAs in Throat Swab as the Biomarkers for Diagnosis of Influenza. Int J Med Sci 2016; 13(1):77-84. doi:10.7150/ijms.13301. Available from

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Background: Influenza is a serious worldwide disease that captures global attention in the past few years after outbreaks. The recent discoveries of microRNA (miRNA) and its unique expression profile in influenza patients have offered a new method for early influenza diagnosis. The aim of this study was to examine the utility of miRNAs for the diagnosis of influenza.

Methods: Thirteen selected miRNAs were investigated with the hosts' throat swabs (25 H1N1, 20 H3N2, 20 influenza B and 21 healthy controls) by real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR) using U6 snRNA as endogenous control for normalization, and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve/Area under curve (AUC) for analysis.

Results: miR-29a-3p, miR-30c-5p, miR-34c-3p and miR-181a-5p are useful biomarkers for influenza A detection; and miR-30c-5p, miR-34b-5p, miR-205-5p and miR-449b-5p for influenza B detection. Also, use of both miR-30c-5p and miR-34c-3p (AUC=0.879); and miR-30c-5p and miR-449b-5p (AUC=0.901) are better than using one miRNA to confirm influenza A and influenza B infection, respectively.

Conclusions: Given its simplicity, non-invasiveness and specificity, we found that the throat swab-derived miRNAs miR-29a-3p, miR-30c-5p, miR-34b-5p, miR-34c-3p, miR-181a-5p, miR-205-5p and miR-449b-5p are a useful tool for influenza diagnosis on influenza A and B.

Keywords: miRNA, RT-qPCR, influenza, throat swab, biomarkers.