MicroRNAs have been considered as a kind of potential novel biomarker for cancer detection due to their remarkable stability in the blood and the characteristics of their expression profile in many diseases.
We performed microarray-based serum miRNA profiling on the serum of twenty nasopharyngeal carcinoma patients at diagnosis along with 20 non-cancerous individuals as controls. This was followed by a real-time quantitative Polymerase Chain Reaction (RT-qPCR) in a separate cohort of thirty patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma and thirty age- matched non-cancerous volunteers. A model for diagnosis was established by a conversion of mathematical calculation formula which has been validated by analyzing 74 cases of patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma and 57 cases of non-cancerous volunteers.
The profiles showed that 39 and 17 miRNAs are exclusively expressed in the serum of non-cancerous volunteers and of patients with nasopharyngeal carcinoma respectively. 4 miRNAs including miR-17, miR-20a, miR-29c, and miR-223 were found to be expressed differentially in the serum of NPC compared with that of non-cancerous control. Based on this, a diagnosis equation with Ct difference method has been established to distinguish NPC cases and non-cancerous controls and validated with high sensitivity and specificity.
We demonstrate that the serum miRNA-based biomarker model become a novel tool for NPC detection. The circulating 4-miRNA-based method may provide a novel strategy for NPC diagnosis.