Serum exosomal microRNAs as novel biomarkers for hepatocellular carcinoma

Recent studies have shown that circulating microRNAs are a potential biomarker in various types of malignancies. The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility of using serum exosomal microRNAs as novel serological biomarkers for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB).

Researchers from Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine measured the serum exosomal microRNAs and serum circulating microRNAs in patients with CHB (n=20), liver cirrhosis (LC) (n=20) and HCC (n=20).  The serum levels of exosomal miR-18a, miR-221, miR-222 and miR-224 were significantly higher in patients with HCC than those with CHB or LC. Further, the serum levels of exosomal miR-101, miR-106b, miR-122 and miR-195 were lower in patients with HCC than in patients with CHB. There was no significant difference in the levels of miR-21 and miR-93 among the three groups. Additionally, the serum levels of circulating microRNAs showed a smaller difference between HCC and either CHB or LC. This study suggests that serum exosomal microRNAs may be used as novel serological biomarkers for HCC.

exosome rna

The distribution of upregulated exosomal microRNAs (miR-18a, -221, -222 and -224) in patients with CHB, LC and HCC. Each serum exosomal microRNA was compared between two groups (CHB vs HCC, CHB vs LC and HCC vs LC). The levels of serum exosomal microRNA were measured by real-time quantitative PCR. The values of relative gene expression for target microRNA were normalized to Cel-miR-39 and calculated using the 2−ΔΔCT method. P<0.05 was considered statistically significant. CHB, chronic hepatitis B; LC, liver cirrhosis; HCC, hepatocellular carcinoma.

Sohn W, Kim J, Kang SH, Yang SR, Cho JY, Cho HC, Shim SG, Paik YH. (2015) Serum exosomal microRNAs as novel biomarkers for hepatocellular carcinoma. Exp Mol Med 47:e184. [article]

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