Because of the different forms of circulating miRNAs in plasma, Argonaute2 (Ago2)-miRNAs and extracellular vesicles (EV-miRNAs), we examined the two forms of extracellular miRNAs in vitro and developed a unique methodology to detect circulating Ago2-miRNAs in small volumes of plasma. We demonstrated that Ago2-miR-21 could be released into the extracellular fluid by active export from viable cancer cells and cytolysis in vitro. As miR-21 and miR-200c were abundantly expressed in both metastatic liver sites and primary lesions, we evaluated Ago2-miR-21 as a candidate biomarker of both active export and cytolysis while Ago2-miR-200c as a biomarker of cytolysis in plasma obtained from colorectal cancer (CRC) patients before treatment and in a series of plasma obtained from CRC patients with liver metastasis who received systemic chemotherapy. The measurement of Ago2-miR-21 allowed us to distinguish CRC patients from subjects without CRC. The trend in ΔCt values for Ago2-miR-21 and -200c during chemotherapy could predict tumor response to ongoing treatment. Thus, capturing circulating Ago2-miRNAs from active export can screen patients with tumor burdens, while capturing them from passive release by cytolysis can monitor tumor dynamics during chemotherapy treatment.
Keywords: Ago2; chemotherapy; circulating miRNA; colorectal cancer; liquid biopsy.
© 2018 The Authors. International Journal of Cancer published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd on behalf of UICC.