Oncogenic microRNA signature for early diagnosis of cervical intraepithelial neoplasia and cancer

Mol Oncol. 2018 Dec;12(12):2009-2022. doi: 10.1002/1878-0261.12383. Epub 2018 Sep 27.


Cervical cancer is one of the leading causes of cancer death in women globally, despite the widespread use of cytology/human papillomavirus (HPV) screening. In the present study, we aimed to identify the potential role of microRNA (miRNA) as a diagnostic biomarker in the detection of cervical pre-malignant lesions and cancer. In total, we recruited 582 patients with cervical diseases and 145 control individuals. The expression levels of six miRNAs (miR-20a, miR-92a, miR-141, miR-183*, miR-210 and miR-944) were found to be significantly up-regulated in cervical cancer and pre-malignant lesions compared to normal cervical samples, indicating that they are oncogenic miRNAs. Receiver operating characteristic curve analysis showed that these six miRNAs can be used to distinguish patients with cervical pre-malignant lesions or cancer from normal individuals and they also had a good predictive performance, particularly in cervical lesions. Combined use of these six miRNAs further enhanced the diagnostic accuracy over any single miRNA marker, with an area under the curve of 0.998, 0.996 and 0.959, a diagnostic sensitivity of 97.9%, 97.2% and 91.4%, and a specificity of 98.6%, 96.6% and 87.6% for low-grade lesions, high-grade lesions and cancer, respectively. This six oncogenic miRNA signature may be suitable for use as diagnostic marker for cervical pre-malignant lesions and cancer in the near future.

Keywords: cervical cancer; cervical intraepithelial neoplasia; diagnostic biomarker; human papillomavirus; microRNA; sensitivity and specificity.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Early Detection of Cancer*
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / genetics*
  • Middle Aged
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Transcriptome*
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia / diagnosis
  • Uterine Cervical Dysplasia / genetics*
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Uterine Cervical Neoplasms / genetics*


  • MicroRNAs