Primary hyperparathyroidism is a common endocrine disorder caused by abnormal tumour parathyroid cell proliferation. Parathyroid tumours show a great variability both in clinical features, such as the severity of PTH secretion, the rate and the pattern of cell proliferation, and genetic background. Studies aiming to develop new diagnostic markers and therapeutic approaches need a deeper definition of this variability. Dysregulation of microRNAs (miRNAs) has been shown to play an essential role in the development and progression of cancer. MiRNAs are small noncoding RNAs that inhibit the translation and stability of messenger RNAs (mRNAs). Here, data about the miRNA expression pattern in parathyroid normal and tumour glands were reviewed. Though available data in parathyroid tumours are very limited, the expression pattern of a subset of specific miRNAs clearly discriminated parathyroid carcinomas from normal parathyroid glands and, more clinically relevant, from parathyroid adenomas. Investigation showed that parathyroid tumours were characterized by an embryonic expression pattern of miRNAs such as miR-296, or the miRNA clusters C19MC and miR-371-3, typically in stem cells committed to differentiation or during human embryonic development, respectively. Further, miRNA profiles were correlated with tumour aggressive behaviour. Moreover, the interaction with the oncosuppressor menin suggests that miRNAs might modulate the function of the known oncosuppressors or oncogenes involved in parathyroid tumourigenesis and thus overseeing the tumour phenotype. In conclusion, miRNAs might provide new diagnostic markers and new therapeutic approaches by developing molecular miRNA-targeted therapies for the cure of parathyroid tumours, whose unique option is surgery.
Keywords: Hyperparathyroidism; MicroRNAs; Parathyroid tumours.