MicroRNA in diagnosis and therapy monitoring of early-stage triple-negative breast cancer

Sci Rep. 2018 Aug 2;8(1):11584. doi: 10.1038/s41598-018-29917-2.


Breast cancer is a heterogeneous disease with distinct molecular subtypes including the aggressive subtype triple-negative breast cancer (TNBC). We compared blood-borne miRNA signatures of early-stage basal-like (cytokeratin-CK5-positive) TNBC patients to age-matched controls. The miRNAs of TNBC patients were assessed prior to and following platinum-based neoadjuvant chemotherapy (NCT). After an exploratory genome-wide study on 21 cases and 21 controls using microarrays, the identified signatures were verified independently in two laboratories on the same and a new cohort by RT-qPCR. We differentiated the blood of TNBC patients before NCT from controls with 84% sensitivity. The most significant miRNA for this diagnostic classification was miR-126-5p (two tailed t-test p-value of 1.4 × 10-5). Validation confirmed the microarray results for all tested miRNAs. Comparing cancer patients prior to and post NCT highlighted 321 significant miRNAs (among them miR-34a, p-value of 1.2 × 10-23). Our results also suggest that changes in miRNA expression during NCT may have predictive potential to predict pathological complete response (pCR). In conclusion we report that miRNA expression measured from blood facilitates early and minimally-invasive diagnosis of basal-like TNBC. We also demonstrate that NCT has a significant influence on miRNA expression. Finally, we show that blood-borne miRNA profiles monitored over time have potential to predict pCR.

Publication types

  • Clinical Trial

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Biopsy, Needle
  • Early Detection of Cancer
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Metabolomics
  • MicroRNAs* / genetics
  • MicroRNAs* / metabolism
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoadjuvant Therapy*
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Prospective Studies
  • RNA, Neoplasm / blood*
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms* / blood
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms* / diagnosis
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms* / pathology
  • Triple Negative Breast Neoplasms* / therapy


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA, Neoplasm