Predicting the Presence of Oral Squamous Cell Carcinoma Using Commonly Dysregulated MicroRNA in Oral Swirls

Cancer Prev Res (Phila). 2018 Aug;11(8):491-502. doi: 10.1158/1940-6207.CAPR-17-0409. Epub 2018 May 15.


Oral swirls are a noninvasive, rapidly collected source of salivary microRNA (miRNA) potentially useful in the early detection of disease states, particularly oral squamous cell carcinoma (OSCC). The aim of this study was to predict the presence of OSCC using a panel of OSCC-related dysregulated miRNA found in oral swirls, identified jointly in data from formalin-fixed paraffin-embedded (FFPE) and fresh-frozen specimens. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) was used to determine miRNA fold changes in FFPE OSCC specimens relative to histologically normal epithelium. These data were placed with NGS of fresh-frozen tissue data of The Cancer Genome Atlas database to select a panel of commonly dysregulated miRNA. This panel was then analyzed by RT-qPCR in RNA extracted from oral swirls collected from 30 patients with OSCC and 30 controls. Upregulation of miR-31 and miR-21 and downregulation of miR-99a, let-7c, miR-125b, and miR-100 were found between OSCC and controls in both FFPE and fresh-frozen samples. These miRNAs were studied in a training set of 15 OSCC versus 15 control oral swirls to develop a dysregulation score [AUC, 0.95; 95% confidence interval (CI), 0.88-1.03] and classification tree. A test cohort of 15 OSCC versus 15 control oral swirls yielded a dysregulation score AUC of 0.86 (95% CI, 0.79-1.00) with the classification tree identifying 100% (15/15) of OSCC and 67% (10/15) of controls. This study debuts the use of OSCC-associated miRNA, commonly dysregulated in both FFPE and frozen specimens, in oral swirls to indicate the presence of OSCC with high accuracy. Cancer Prev Res; 11(8); 491-502. ©2018 AACR.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Algorithms
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / isolation & purification
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / metabolism*
  • Biopsy
  • Down-Regulation
  • Feasibility Studies
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling / methods
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic*
  • High-Throughput Nucleotide Sequencing
  • Humans
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / isolation & purification
  • MicroRNAs / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Mouth Mucosa / pathology
  • Mouth Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Mouth Neoplasms / genetics
  • Mouth Neoplasms / pathology
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prognosis
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck / diagnosis*
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck / genetics
  • Squamous Cell Carcinoma of Head and Neck / pathology
  • Up-Regulation


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MicroRNAs