New vistas in malignant mesothelioma: MicroRNA architecture and NRF2/MAPK signal transduction

Life Sciences 2020 July 22 [Link]

Manav Gandhi, Sujit Nair


Malignant mesothelioma (MM) is a cancer of the mesothelial lining of the pleura, peritoneum, pericardium and testes. The most common form is asbestos-linked MM that is etiologically linked to repeated asbestos exposure with a long latency period, although non-asbestos MM has also been reported. Late diagnosis, poor survival rates, lack of diagnostic and prognostic markers act as major impediments in the clinical management of MM. Despite advances in immune checkpoint inhibition and CAR T-cell-based therapies, MM which is of different histologic subtypes remains challenging to treat. We review microRNAs (miRNAs) and the miRNA interactome implicated in MM which can be useful as circulating miRNA biomarkers for early diagnosis of MM and as biomarkers for prognostication in MM. Further, we underscore the relevance of the NRF2/MAPK signal transduction pathway that has been implicated in MM which may be useful as druggable targets or as biomarkers of predictive response. In addition, since MM is driven partly by inflammation, we elucidate chemopreventive phytochemicals that are beneficial in MM, either via crosstalk with the NRF2/MAPK pathway or via concerted anticancer mechanisms, and may be of benefit as adjuvants in chemotherapy. Taken together, a multifactorial approach comprising identification of miRNA target hubs and NRF2/MAPK biomarkers along with appropriately designed clinical trials may enable early detection and faster intervention in MM translating into better patient outcomes for this aggressive cancer.