MicroRNA-based molecular classification of papillary thyroid carcinoma

Int J Oncol. 2017 May;50(5):1767-1777. doi: 10.3892/ijo.2017.3960. Epub 2017 Apr 7.


MicroRNA (miRNA) expression is dysregulated in many human malignancies, and a growing number of studies are focused on their potential use as tumor biomarkers. To identify a miRNA signature for papillary thyroid carcinomas (PTC), we investigated miRNA expression profiles in two independent cohorts of PTCs, which included major histological subtypes [classical-type (PTC‑CT), follicular-variant (PTC‑FV), and tall-cell variant (PTC‑TCV)] and cases with low or intermediate risk of recurrence. Using TaqMan® Array Human MicroRNA A+B Cards v3.0, we first performed microRNA profiling of normal and neoplastic thyroid tissues from 29 PTC patients. Promising candidates were then investigated in a second, independent cohort of 76 PTCs using Custom TaqMan® Array MicroRNA Cards. We identified a molecular signature of 11 miRNAs that were significantly upregulated (miR‑146b-5p, miR‑146b-3p, miR‑221-3p, miR‑222‑5p, miR‑222‑3p) or downregulated (miR‑1179, miR‑486‑5p, miR‑204-5p, miR‑7-2-3p, miR‑144-5p, miR‑140-3p) in PTC tissues vs. normal thyroid tissue. Upregulation of miR‑146b-5p and miR‑222‑3p was also significantly associated with an increased risk of recurrence. Higher than normal expression of miR‑146b-5p and miR‑146b-3p characterized PTC‑CT and PTC‑TCV but not PTC‑FV, whereas miR‑21-5p was significantly upregulated only in PTC‑TCV. When PTC‑FV were subclassified as encapsulated (PTC‑EFV) or infiltrative (PTC‑IFV), miR‑204-5p was downregulated in all histological subtypes except PTC‑EFV, which displayed expression levels similar to those of normal thyroid tissues. These findings provide new insights into the molecular classification of PTC, showing that different miRNA expression profiles are associated with different histological types of PTC and different risks of recurrence.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / biosynthesis*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Carcinoma / classification
  • Carcinoma / genetics*
  • Carcinoma / pathology
  • Carcinoma, Papillary
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / biosynthesis*
  • MicroRNAs / classification
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • Thyroid Cancer, Papillary
  • Thyroid Gland / pathology
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / classification
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / pathology


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MicroRNAs