Plasma microRNAs are promising novel biomarkers for early detection of colorectal cancer

Int J Cancer. 2010 Jul 1;127(1):118-26. doi: 10.1002/ijc.25007.


MicroRNA (miRNA) opens up a new field for molecular diagnosis of cancer. However, the role of circulating miRNAs in plasma/serum in cancer diagnosis is not clear. The aim of this study was to investigate whether plasma miRNAs can be used as biomarkers for the early detection of colorectal carcinoma (CRC). We measured the levels of 12 miRNAs (miR-134, -146a, -17-3p, -181d, -191, -221, -222, -223, -25, -29a, -320a and -92a) in plasma samples from patients with advanced colorectal neoplasia (carcinomas and advanced adenomas) and healthy controls using real-time RT-PCR. We found that plasma miR-29a and miR-92a have significant diagnostic value for advanced neoplasia. MiR-29a yielded an AUC (the areas under the ROC curve) of 0.844 and miR-92a yielded an AUC of 0.838 in discriminating CRC from controls. More importantly, these 2 miRNAs also could discriminate advanced adenomas from controls and yielded an AUC of 0.769 for miR-29a and 0.749 for miR-92a. Combined ROC analyses using these 2 miRNAs revealed an elevated AUC of 0.883 with 83.0% sensitivity and 84.7% specificity in discriminating CRC, and AUC of 0.773 with 73.0% sensitivity and 79.7% specificity in discriminating advanced adenomas. Collectively, these data suggest that plasma miR-29a and miR-92a have strong potential as novel noninvasive biomarkers for early detection of CRC.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Colorectal Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Early Diagnosis
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / blood*
  • Middle Aged
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MicroRNAs