The role of miRNAs in cancer: from pathogenesis to therapeutic implications

Future Oncol. 2014 May;10(6):1027-48. doi: 10.2217/fon.13.259.


Cancer is still one of the dominating causes of deaths worldwide, although there have been important enhancements for detection and diagnosis of cancer recently. miRNAs are shown to participate in carcinogenesis of several types of tumors and their aberrant expression of miRNAs has been detected in cell lines, xenografts and clinical samples. miRNAs are thought to target and modulate the expression of more than 60% of human genes, which makes the expressional regulation by miRNAs the most abundant post-transcriptional regulation mode. Here, we have reviewed the most current literature to shed a light on the functions of miRNAs on human carcinogenesis. Possible roles of miRNAs in oncogenesis through both genetic and epigenetic changes occurring during cancer initiation, progression, invasion or metastasis are summarized.

Keywords: cancer; diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers; miRNAs; oncogenes; tumor suppressor.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Epigenesis, Genetic
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Genes, Tumor Suppressor
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Neoplasm Metastasis
  • Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Neoplasms / pathology
  • Neoplasms / therapy
  • Neoplastic Stem Cells / metabolism
  • Oncogenes
  • Polymorphism, Single Nucleotide
  • Prognosis


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MicroRNAs