Long non-coding RNAs (lncRNAs) are members of the non-protein coding RNA family longer than 200 nucleotides. They participate in the regulation of gene and protein expression influencing apoptosis, cell proliferation and immune responses, thereby playing a critical role in the development and progression of various cancers, including colorectal cancer (CRC). As CRC is one of the most frequently diagnosed malignancies worldwide with high mortality, its screening and early detection are crucial, so the identification of disease-specific biomarkers is necessary. LncRNAs are promising candidates as they are involved in carcinogenesis, and certain lncRNAs (e.g., CCAT1, CRNDE, CRCAL1-4) show altered expression in adenomas, making them potential early diagnostic markers. In addition to being useful as tissue-specific markers, analysis of circulating lncRNAs (e.g., CCAT1, CCAT2, BLACAT1, CRNDE, NEAT1, UCA1) in peripheral blood offers the possibility to establish minimally invasive, liquid biopsy-based diagnostic tests. This review article aims to describe the origin, structure, and functions of lncRNAs and to discuss their contribution to CRC development. Moreover, our purpose is to summarise lncRNAs showing altered expression levels during tumor formation in both colon tissue and plasma/serum samples and to demonstrate their clinical implications as diagnostic or prognostic biomarkers for CRC.
Keywords: Biomarker; Circulating long non-coding RNAs; Colorectal adenoma; Colorectal cancer; Diagnostic marker; Exosome; Long non-coding RNA; Prognostic marker.