PloS one

Low levels of cell-free circulating miR-361-3p and miR-625* as blood-based markers for discriminating malignant from benign lung tumors.

PMID 22675530


The high mortality rate of lung cancer patients is mainly due to the late stage at which lung cancer is diagnosed. For effective cancer prevention programs and early diagnosis, better blood-based markers are needed. Hence, blood-based microarray profiling of microRNA (miR) expression was performed in preoperative serum of 21 non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC) patients and 11 healthy individuals by microfluid biochips containing 1158 different miRs. Two out of the 30 most dysregulated miRs were further validated in serum of 97 NSCLC patients, 20 patients with benign lung diseases and 30 healthy individuals by TaqMan MicroRNA Assays. Microarray profiling showed that miR-361-3p and miR-625* were significantly down-regulated in serum of lung cancer patients. Their further evaluation by quantitative RT-PCR showed that the levels of miR-361-3p and miR-625* were lower in NSCLC than in benign disease (p = 0.0001) and healthy individuals (p = 0.0001, p = 0.0005, respectively). Moreover, the levels of miR-625* were significantly lower in patients with large cell lung cancer (LCLC, p = 0.014) and smoking patients (p = 0.030) than in patients with adenocarcinoma and non-smoking patients, respectively. A rise in the levels of both miRs was observed in the postoperative samples compared with the preoperative levels (p = 0.0001). Functional analyses showed that Smad2 and TGFß1 are not dysregulated by miR-361-3p and miR-625* in the lung cell line A549, respectively. Our present pilot study suggests that miR-361-3p and miR-625* might have a protective influence on the development of NSCLC, and the quantitative assessment of these miRs in blood serum might have diagnostic potential to detect NSCLC, in particular in smokers.