Circulating microRNAs: novel biomarkers for esophageal cancer

World J Gastroenterol. 2010 May 21;16(19):2348-54. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v16.i19.2348.


Esophageal carcinogenesis is a multi-stage process, involving a variety of changes in gene expression and physiological structure change. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small non-coding endogenous RNA molecules. Recent innovation in miRNAs profiling technology have shed new light on the pathology of esophageal carcinoma (EC), and also heralded great potential for exploring novel biomarkers for both EC diagnosis and treatment. Frequent dysregulation of miRNA in malignancy highlights the study of molecular factors upstream of gene expression following the extensive investigation on elucidating the important role of miRNA in carcinogenesis. We herein present a thorough review of the role of miRNAs in EC, addressing miRNA functions, their putative role as oncogenes or tumor suppressors and their potential target genes. The recent progresses in discovering the quantifiable circulating cancer-associated miRNAs indicate the potential clinical use of miRNAs as novel minimally invasive biomarkers for EC and other cancers. We also discuss the potential role of miRNAs in detection, screening and surveillance of EC as miRNAs can be a potential target in personalized treatment of EC.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Carcinoma / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma / genetics*
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Carcinoma / therapy
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / pathology
  • Esophageal Neoplasms / therapy
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genetic Testing
  • Humans
  • Mass Screening / methods
  • MicroRNAs / blood*
  • Precision Medicine
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MicroRNAs