A substantial number of ductal carcinoma in situ (DCIS) detected by mammography never progress to invasive ductal carcinoma (IDC) and current approaches fail to identify low-risk patients not at need of adjuvant therapies. We aimed to identify the key miRNAs protecting DCIS from malignant evolution, that may constitute markers for non-invasive lesions. We studied 100 archived DCIS samples, including pure DCIS, DCIS with adjacent IDC and pure DCIS from patients with subsequent IDC in contralateral breast or no recurrence. A DCIS derived cell line was used for molecular and cellular studies. A genome wide study revealed that pure DCIS has higher miR-126 and miR-218 expression than DCIS with adjacent IDC lesions or than IDC. The down-regulation of miR-126 and miR-218 promoted invasiveness in vitro and, in patients with pure DCIS, was associated with later onset of IDC. Survival studies of independent cohorts indicated that both miRNAs play a protective role in IDC. The clinical findings are in agreement with the miRNAs' roles in cell adhesion, differentiation and proliferation. We propose that miR-126 and miR-218 have a protective role in DCIS and represent novel biomarkers for the risk assessment in women with early detection of breast cancer.
Keywords: DCIS; EMT; breast cancer; breast tumor progression; over-diagnosis.