Plasma small ncRNA pair panels as novel biomarkers for early-stage lung adenocarcinoma screening

BMC Genomics. 2018 Jul 20;19(1):545. doi: 10.1186/s12864-018-4862-z.


Background: Lung cancer is a major cause of cancer-related mortality worldwide, and around two-thirds of patients have metastasis at diagnosis. Thus, detecting lung cancer at an early stage could reduce mortality. Aberrant levels of circulating small non-coding RNAs (small ncRNAs) are potential diagnostic or prognostic markers for lung cancer. We aimed to identify plasma small ncRNA pairs that could be used for early screening and detection of lung adenocarcinoma (LAC).

Results: A panel of seven small ncRNA pair ratios could differentiate patients with LAC or benign lung disease from high-risk controls with an area under the curve (AUC) of 100.0%, a sensitivity of 100.0% and a specificity of 100.0% at the training stage (which included 50 patients with early-stage LAC, 35 patients with benign diseases and 29 high-risk controls) and an AUC of 90.2%, a sensitivity of 91.5% and a specificity of 80.4% at the validation stage (which included 44 patients with early-stage LAC, 32 patients with benign diseases and 51 high-risk controls). The same panel could distinguish LAC from high-risk controls with an AUC of 100.0%, a sensitivity of 100.0% and a specificity of 100.0% at the training stage and an AUC of 89.5%, a sensitivity of 85.4% and a specificity of 83.3% at the validation stage. Another panel of five small ncRNA pair ratios (different from the first) was able to differentiate LAC from benign disease with an AUC of 82.0%, a sensitivity of 81.1% and a specificity of 78.1% in the training cohort and an AUC of 74.2%, a sensitivity of 70.4% and a specificity of 72.7% in the validation cohort.

Conclusions: Several small ncRNA pair ratios were identified as markers capable of discerning patients with LAC from those with benign lesions or high-risk control individuals.

Keywords: Biomarkers; Cancer screening; Lung cancer; Small non-coding RNA.

MeSH terms

  • Adenocarcinoma / diagnosis*
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Biomarkers / blood
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lung Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA, Small Untranslated / blood*
  • Young Adult


  • Biomarkers
  • RNA, Small Untranslated