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MiRNA-124a: a Potential Biomarker for Neurological Deficits Following Cardiac Surgery in Pediatric Patients


Brain injury is a major source of patient morbidity after cardiac surgery in children. New early accurate biomarkers are needed for the diagnosis of patients at risk for cerebral postoperative damage. Specific circulating miRNAs have been found as suitable biomarkers for many diseases. We tested whether miRNA-124a reflects neurological injury in pediatric patients following heart surgery. Serum samples were obtained from 34 patients before and six hours after heart surgery. MiRNAs-124a was quantified by RQ-PCR. MiRNA-124a levels six hours after heart surgery correlated with the neurological outcome of the patients. In children with neurological deficits, miRNA-124a levels increased while in those with no neurological deficits the levels decreased. MiRNA-124a was able, at six hours after the operation, to identify patients who are at risk for the appearance of neurological deficits. Circulating miRNA-124a is a potential biomarker for the appearance of neurological deficits in pediatric patients following heart surgery.

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Fig. 1
Fig. 2



congenital heart disease




C-reactive protein


cardiopulmonary bypass


aortic crossclamp


extracorporeal membrane oxygenation


pediatric stroke outcome measure


Glasgow Coma Scale


postoperative cognitive dysfunction


neuron-specific enolase


hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy


Risk-Adjusted Classification for Congenital Heart Surgery


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We thank Amisragas for their continuous support of the Department of Intensive Care. This study was performed at the Department of Pediatric Critical Care Medicine, Safra Children’s Hospital, Sheba Medical Center, Tel Hashomer, Israel.


This work was funded with institutional departmental funds.

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Corresponding author

Correspondence to Yael Nevo-Caspi.

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Ethics Approval and Consent to Participate

All procedures followed were in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and national committees on human experimentation and with the Helsinki Declaration of 1975, as revised in 2000. Informed consent was obtained from all patients for being included in the study. No animal studies were carried out by the authors for this article.

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The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.

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Associate Editor Marat Fudim oversaw the review of this article

Supplementary Information

Figure S1

Association of clinical and postoperative parameters with the neurological status of the patients. Patients were divided in two groups: those that showed a neurological deficit upon discharge and those that did not. The following parameters were studied: A. Lactate levels six hours after the operation B. Time to discharge C. Time to initiation of oral nutrition D. Time to return to a baseline GCS score. Each box plot shows the 10th, 25th, 50th, 75th, and 90th percentile of the patients. ** p < 0.01 (PNG 340 kb)

High resolution image (TIF 17161 kb)


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Zloto, K., Mor, L., Bar-Yosef, O. et al. MiRNA-124a: a Potential Biomarker for Neurological Deficits Following Cardiac Surgery in Pediatric Patients. J. of Cardiovasc. Trans. Res. (2021).

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  • Biomarker
  • MiRNA
  • MiRNA-124a
  • Neurological deficit
  • Congenital heart disease
  • Pediatric cardiac surgery