Clinical significance of blood-based miRNAs as diagnostic and prognostic nucleic acid markers in breast cancer: Comparative to conventional tumor markers

J Cell Biochem. 2019 Aug;120(8):12321-12330. doi: 10.1002/jcb.28496. Epub 2019 Mar 1.


microRNAs (miRNAs) are implicated in carcinogenesis and their expression in biological fluids offer great potential as nucleic acid markers for cancer detection and progression. Authors investigated the expression level of miRNAs (miRNA-21, miRNA-126, and miRNA-155) to evaluate their role as diagnostic and prognostic markers for breast cancer compared with other commonly used protein-based markers (CEA and CA15-3). Serum samples from patients with breast cancer (n = 96), patients with benign breast lesion (n = 47), and healthy individuals (n = 39) were enrolled for detection of miRNA expression levels and protein-based tumor markers using fluorescent real-time quantitative polymerase chain reaction and enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay, respectively. Correlation among investigated markers with clinicopathological factors and clinical outcomes were determined. Expression of miRNA-21 and miRNA-155 revealed significant increases in patients with breast cancer compared with both benign and control groups, the same result was reported for tumor markers; on the other hand, miRNA-126 was significantly decreased in breast cancer group as compared with the other two groups. miRNA frequencies were significantly related to clinical staging and histological grading as compared with tumor markers. Patients with breast cancer with increased miRNA-21 and miRNA-155 and decreased miRNA-126 expressions had significantly worse disease-free survival, while only miRNA-21 and miRNA-126 showed poor OS (P< 0.005). In conclusion, investigated miRNAs were superior over tumor markers for the early stage of breast cancer especially those with high-risk factor and their assessment in blood facilitates their role as a potential prognostic molecular marker.

Keywords: breast cancer; clinicopathological factors; diagnosis; microRNA; prognosis; recurrence.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood*
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Breast Neoplasms / blood*
  • Breast Neoplasms / diagnosis
  • Breast Neoplasms / genetics
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • MicroRNAs / blood*
  • MicroRNAs / genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Prognosis
  • ROC Curve
  • Survival Rate


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MIRN126 microRNA, human
  • MIRN155 microRNA, human
  • MIRN21 microRNA, human
  • MicroRNAs