The Role of MicroRNA Signature as Diagnostic Biomarkers in Different Clinical Stages of Colorectal Cancer

Document Type : Original Article


1 Department of Molecular Genetics, Marvdasht Branch, Islamic Azad University, Marvdasht, Iran;Department of Molecular Genetics, Science and Research Branch, Islamic Azad University, Fars, Iran

2 Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics, Bushehr Branch, Islamic Azad University, Bushehr, Iran

3 4Colorectal Research Center, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

4 5Department of Microbiology, School of Medicine, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

5 6Ophthalmic Research Center, Shahid Beheshti University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran

6 7Bone and Joint Reconstruction Research Center, Shafa Orthopedic Hospital, Iran University of Medical Sciences, Tehran, Iran


Colorectal cancer (CRC) is one of the most common cancers and a major cause of cancer-related death worldwide. The early diagnosis of colorectal tumors is one of the most important challenges in cancer management. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have provided new insight into CRC development and have been suggested as reliable and stable biomarkers for diagnosis and prognosis. The aim of this study was to analyze the differential expression of miRNAs at different stages of CRC searching for possible correlation with clinicopathological features to examine their potential value as diagnostic biomarkers.
Materials and Methods
In this case-control study, plasma and matched tissue samples were collected from 74 CRC patients at stage II-IV as well as blood samples from 32 healthy controls. After exhaustive study of the current literature, eight miRNAs including miR-200c, 20a, 21, 31,135b, 133b,145 and let-7g were selected. The expression level of the miRNAs was assayed by quantitative reverse transcriptase-polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR). Statistical analysis, including t test , Mann-Whitney U, Kruskall-Wallis tests and receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve was applied, where needed.
Significantly elevated levels of miR-21, miR-31, miR-20a, miR-135b, and decreased levels of miR- 200c, miR-145 and let-7 g were detected in both plasma and matched tissue samples compared to the healthy group (P < 0.05). However, no significant differences were observed in the expression level of plasma and tissue miR-133b (P > 0.05). ROC for tissue miRNAs showed an area under the ROC curve (AUC) of 0.98 and P < 0.001 for miR-21, 0.91 and P < 0.001 for miR-135b, 0.91 and P < 0.001 for miR-31, and 0.92 and P < 0.001 for miR-20a.
Our results indicate that the expression levels of microRNAs are systematically altered in CRC tissue and plasma. In conclusion, detection of miR-21, miR-135b, miR-31 and miR-20a levels in the tissue might be helpful to illuminate the molecular mechanisms underlying CRC carcinogenesis and serve as tumor-associated biomarkers for diagnosis.