Background: For the detection of malignant mesothelioma no single biomarker with reasonable sensitivity and specificity has been described so far. Mesothelin, the most prominent blood-based biomarker, is characterized by high specificity but low sensitivity. It might be reasonable to combine biomarkers of different molecular classes in order to improve the overall performance. The aim of this study was to assess the performance of the combination of mesothelin and miR-103a-3p as blood-based biomarker for mesothelioma.
Methods/principal findings: Mesothelin concentration in plasma and miR-103a-3p levels in the cellular blood fraction were analyzed in 43 male mesothelioma patients and 52 male controls formerly exposed to asbestos. For the discrimination of epithelioid and biphasic mesothelioma from asbestos-exposed controls mesothelin and miR-103a-3p showed 74% and 89% sensitivity and 85% and 63% specificity, respectively. For the combination of mesothelin and miR-103a-3p a sensitivity of 95% and a specificity of 81% were calculated.
Conclusions/significance: The results of this study show that the combination of mesothelin and miR-103a-3p improves the diagnostic performance of individual blood-based biomarker to detect malignant mesothelioma. The obtained results indicate that the use of biomarkers of different molecular classes might be a reasonable approach to assemble a biomarker panel.