Background. Primary graft dysfunction, infections, and acute rejection (AR) worsen lung transplantation (LTx) outcome and patient survival. Despite significant efforts, reliable biomarkers of acute lung allograft dysfunction are lacking. To address this issue, we profiled the bronchoalveolar lavage (BAL) miRNome in LTx patients. Methods. BAL-microRNAs (miRNAs) from 16 patients were collected 7 days (T0), 15 days (T1), and 3 months (T2) after bilateral LTx and profiled on low-density array. Unsupervised and supervised analyses were used to identify miRNAs associated with clinical features, pneumonia, or AR. Prognostic markers were identified using the Cox model. Targeted signaling pathways were predicted in silico. A second series of 11 patients were used to validate AR-associated miRNAs. Results. Variation in BAL-miRNAs was associated with acute lung allograft dysfunction. Increased levels of miR-23b-3p at T2 were detected in patients with pneumonia, whereas let-7f-5p, miR-146b-3p, miR-22-5p, miR-29c-5p, miR-362-5p, and miR-452-5p were upregulated at T2 in patients with AR. miR-148b-5p and miR-744-3p distinguished LTx patients with AR in both cohorts. Low miR-148b-5p and high miR-744-3p expression levels were significantly associated with a shorter time to AR either within the first year after LTx or during follow-up. Combination of the 2 miRNAs identified LTx patients with higher AR risk independently of clinical variables. Conclusions. Our data provide new insights into the roles of BAL-miRNAs in regulating the pulmonary environment after transplantation and suggest that these miRNAs could serve as biomarkers of early- or mid-stage events. If validated, these findings could pave the way to a personalized clinical approach in LTx patients.
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