Circulating microRNAs and long non-coding RNAs in gastric cancer diagnosis: An update and review

World J Gastroenterol. 2015 Sep 14;21(34):9863-86. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v21.i34.9863.


Gastric cancer (GC) is the fourth most common cancer and the third leading cause of cancer mortality worldwide. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) and long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are the most popular non-coding RNAs in cancer research. To date, the roles of miRNAs and lncRNAs have been extensively studied in GC, suggesting that miRNAs and lncRNAs represent a vital component of tumor biology. Furthermore, circulating miRNAs and lncRNAs are found to be dysregulated in patients with GC compared with healthy individuals. Circulating miRNAs and lncRNAs may function as promising biomarkers to improve the early detection of GC. Multiple possibilities for miRNA secretion have been elucidated, including active secretion by microvesicles, exosomes, apoptotic bodies, high-density lipoproteins and protein complexes as well as passive leakage from cells. However, the mechanism underlying lncRNA secretion and the functions of circulating miRNAs and lncRNAs have not been fully illuminated. Concurrently, to standardize results of global investigations of circulating miRNAs and lncRNAs biomarker studies, several recommendations for pre-analytic considerations are put forward. In this review, we summarize the known circulating miRNAs and lncRNAs for GC diagnosis. The possible mechanism of miRNA and lncRNA secretion as well as methodologies for identification of circulating miRNAs and lncRNAs are also discussed. The topics covered here highlight new insights into GC diagnosis and screening.

Keywords: Circulating long non-coding RNAs; Circulating microRNAs; Diagnosis; Gastric cancer; Methodologies; Secretion.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / blood*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques*
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / blood*
  • RNA, Long Noncoding / genetics
  • Stomach Neoplasms / blood*
  • Stomach Neoplasms / genetics
  • Stomach Neoplasms / pathology
  • Stomach Neoplasms / therapy


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Long Noncoding