Deregulation of microRNA expression in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from patients with HCV-related malignancies

Hepatol Int. 2015 Oct;9(4):586-93. doi: 10.1007/s12072-015-9658-5. Epub 2015 Aug 14.


Background and aim: Hepatocellular carcinoma is one of the major causes of death due to cancer worldwide, and its association with hepatitis C virus infection has been definitively established. Hepatitis C virus is also involved in the pathogenesis of non-Hodgkin's lymphoma. This is the only virus infecting humans that is able to induce two different malignancies. We analyzed the expression levels of a panel of microRNA in peripheral blood mononuclear cells of patients with hepatitis C virus-related malignancies in order to find a disease-associated deregulation and identify specific biomarkers.

Methods: We tested peripheral blood mononuclear cells isolated from patients with hepatocellular carcinoma, non-Hodgkin's lymphoma, hepatitis C virus without malignancies and healthy subjects for a panel of microRNA selected on the basis of previous studies. MicroRNA expression was evaluated by real-time PCR.

Results: Our results showed an upregulation of miRNA-21 and downregulation of miRNA-26b in hepatocellular carcinoma and non-Hodgkin's lymphoma patients compared to controls (p < 0.001). Deregulation of miRNA-16 and miRNA-155 was limited to lymphoma patients.

Conclusions: This study shows that some microRNAs are differently expressed in peripheral blood mononuclear cells from hepatitis C virus patients who develop hepatocellular carcinoma or lymphoma, while others share a common behavior. Thus, analysis of the expression of microRNAs could be a noninvasive marker of hepatitis C virus-related carcinogenesis. This analysis could be a suitable tool for identifying the existence of a malignancy and also discriminating between these two hepatitis C virus-related cancers.

Keywords: Biomarker; Hepatitis C virus; Hepatocellular carcinoma; Non-Hodgkin’s lymphoma; microRNA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / biosynthesis
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • DNA, Viral / analysis
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • Hepacivirus / genetics
  • Hepacivirus / immunology
  • Hepatitis B Antibodies / analysis
  • Hepatitis C / complications*
  • Hepatitis C / genetics
  • Hepatitis C / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / metabolism*
  • Leukocytes, Mononuclear / pathology
  • Liver Neoplasms / etiology
  • Liver Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Liver Neoplasms / metabolism
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / biosynthesis
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Neoplasm / genetics*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • DNA, Viral
  • Hepatitis B Antibodies
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Neoplasm