Prenatal opioid-exposed infant extracellular miRNA signature obtained at birth predicts severity of neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome. Academic Article uri icon


  • Prenatal opioid exposure (POE) is commonly associated with neonatal opioid withdrawal syndrome (NOWS), which is characterized by a broad variability in symptoms and severity. Currently there are no diagnostic tools to reliably predict which infants will develop severe NOWS, while risk stratification would allow for proactive decisions about appropriate clinical monitoring and interventions. The aim of this prospective cohort study was to assess if extracellular microRNAs (miRNAs) in umbilical cord plasma of infants with POE could predict NOWS severity. Participants (n=58) consisted of pregnant women receiving medications for opioid use disorder and their infants. NOWS severity was operationalized as the need for pharmacologic treatment and prolonged hospitalization (14days). Cord blood miRNAs were assessed using semi-quantitative qRT-PCR arrays. Receiver operating characteristic curves and area under the curve (AUC) were estimated. The expression of three miRNAs (miR-128-3p, miR-30c-5p, miR-421) predicted need for pharmacologic treatment (AUC: 0.85) and prolonged hospitalization (AUC: 0.90). Predictive validity improved after two miRNAs (let-7d-5p, miR-584-5p) were added to the need for pharmacologic treatment model (AUC: 0.94) and another two miRNAs (let-7b-5p, miR-10-5p) to the prolonged hospitalization model (AUC: 0.99). Infant cord blood extracellular miRNAs can proactively identify opioid-exposed neonates at high-risk for developing severe NOWS.

published proceedings

  • Sci Rep

altmetric score

  • 0.5

author list (cited authors)

  • Mahnke, A. H., Roberts, M. H., Leeman, L., Ma, X., Bakhireva, L. N., & Miranda, R. C.

citation count

  • 3

complete list of authors

  • Mahnke, Amanda H||Roberts, Melissa H||Leeman, Lawrence||Ma, Xingya||Bakhireva, Ludmila N||Miranda, Rajesh C

publication date

  • April 2022