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Introduction—Cystic fibrosis (CF) is a multi-organ disorder characterized by chronic sinopulmonary infections and inflammation. Many patients with CF suffer from repeated pulmonary exacerbations that are predictors of worsened long-term morbidity and mortality. There are no reliable markers that associate with the onset or progression of an exacerbation or pulmonary deterioration. Previously, we found that the Mirc1/Mir17–92a cluster which is comprised of 6 microRNAs (Mirs) is highly expressed in CF mice and negatively regulates autophagy which in turn improves CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) function. Therefore, here we sought to examine the expression of individual Mirs within the Mirc1/Mir17–92 cluster in human cells and biological fluids and determine their role as biomarkers of pulmonary exacerbations and response to treatment. Methods—Mirc1/Mir17–92 cluster expression was measured in human CF and non-CF plasma, blood-derived neutrophils, and sputum samples. Values were correlated with pulmonary function, exacerbations and use of CFTR modulators. Results—Mirc1/Mir17–92 cluster expression was not significantly elevated in CF neutrophils nor plasma when compared to the non-CF cohort. Cluster expression in CF sputum was significantly higher than its expression in plasma. Elevated CF sputum Mirc1/Mir17–92 cluster expression positively correlated with pulmonary exacerbations and negatively correlated with lung function. Patients with CF undergoing treatment with the CFTR modulator Ivacaftor/Lumacaftor did not demonstrate significant change in the expression Mirc1/Mir17–92 cluster after six months of treatment. Conclusions—Mirc1/Mir17–92 cluster expression is a promising biomarker of respiratory status in patients with CF including pulmonary exacerbation. Published by Elsevier B.V. on behalf of European Cystic Fibrosis Society.

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Krause K, Kopp BT, Tazi MF, et al. The expression of Mirc1/Mir17–92 cluster in sputum samples correlates with pulmonary exacerbations in cystic fibrosis patients. Journal of Cystic Fibrosis. 2018;17(4):454-461. doi:10.1016/j.jcf.2017.11.005