Evaluation of plasma miR-21 and miR-152 as diagnostic biomarkers for common types of human cancers

Hankui Chen, Helu Liu, Hanqing Zou, Rui Chen, Yuhong Dou, Shile Sheng, Shengming Dai, Junmei Ai, Joshua Melson, Rick A. Kittles, Mehdi Pirooznia, Michael J. Liptay, Jeffrey A. Borgia, Youping Deng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

62 Scopus citations


Stable blood based miRNA species have allowed for the differentiation of patients with various types of cancer. Therefore, specific blood-based miRNA might be considered as a methodology which could be informative of the presence of cancer potentially from multiple distinct organ sites. Recently, miR-21 has been identified as an "oncomir" in various tumors while miR-152 as a tumor suppressor. In this study, we investigated whether circulating miR-21 and miR-152 can be used for early detection of lung cancer (LuCa), colorectal carcinoma (CRC), breast cancer (BrCa) and prostate cancer (PCa), with distinguishing cancer from various benign lesions on these organ sites. We measured the two miRNA levels by using real-time RT-PCR in plasma samples from a total of 204 cancer patients, 159 various benign lesions, and 228 normal subjects. We observed significantly elevated expression of miR-21 and miR-152 in LuCa, CRC, and BrCa when compared with normal controls. We also found upregulation of plasma miR-21 and miR-152 levels in patients with benign lesions of lung and breast, as compared to normal controls, respectively. No significant expression variation of the two miRNAs was observed in PCa or prostatic benign lesions as compared to healthy controls. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) analyses revealed that miR-21 and/or miR-152 can discriminate LuCa, CRC and BrCa from normal controls. Our results suggest that plasma miR-21 and miR-152 may serve as non-specific noninvasive biomarkers for early screening of LuCa, CRC, and BrCa, but not PCa.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)490-499
Number of pages10
JournalJournal of Cancer
Issue number5
StatePublished - 2016


  • Cancer
  • miRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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