Oncotarget 2016 June 1 [Epub ahead of print] [Link]
Micolucci L, Akhtar MM, Olivieri F, Rippo MR, Procopio AD.
Asbestos is a harmful and exceptionally persistent natural material. Malignant mesothelioma (MM), an asbestos-related disease, is an insidious, lethal cancer that is poorly responsive to current treatments. Minimally invasive, specific, and sensitive biomarkers providing early and effective diagnosis in high-risk patients are urgently needed. MicroRNAs (miRNAs, miRs) are endogenous, non-coding, small RNAs with established diagnostic value in cancer and pollution exposure. A systematic review and a qualitative meta-analysis were conducted to identify high-confidence miRNAs that can serve as biomarkers of asbestos exposure and MM.
The major biomedical databases were systematically searched for miRNA expression signatures related to asbestos exposure and MM. The qualitative meta-analysis applied a novel vote-counting method that takes into account multiple parameters. The most significant miRNAs thus identified were then subjected to functional and bioinformatic analysis to assess their biomarker potential.
A pool of deregulated circulating and tissue miRNAs with biomarker potential for MM was identified and designated as “mesomiRs” (MM-associated miRNAs). Comparison of data from asbestos-exposed and MM subjects found that the most promising candidates for a multimarker signature were circulating miR-126-3p, miR-103a-3p, and miR-625-3p in combination with mesothelin. The most consistently described tissue miRNAs, miR-16-5p, miR-126-3p, miR-143-3p, miR-145-5p, miR-192-5p, miR-193a-3p, miR-200b-3p, miR-203a-3p, and miR-652-3p, were also found to provide a diagnostic signature and should be further investigated as possible therapeutic targets.
The qualitative meta-analysis and functional investigation confirmed the early diagnostic value of two miRNA signatures for MM. Large-scale, standardized validation studies are needed to assess their clinical relevance, so as to move from the workbench to the clinic.