Altered Serum MicroRNA Profile May Serve as an Auxiliary Tool for Discriminating Aggressive Thyroid Carcinoma from Nonaggressive Thyroid Cancer and Benign Thyroid Nodules

Dis Markers. 2019 Sep 16;2019:3717683. doi: 10.1155/2019/3717683. eCollection 2019.


Thyroid cancers are the most common malignancy of the endocrine system; however, there is no reliable blood biomarkers for thyroid cancer diagnosis and even for aggressive and nonaggressive thyroid cancers as well as benign nodule discrimination. The present study is aimed at evaluating whether circulating microRNA (miRNA) can differentiate aggressive and nonaggressive thyroid cancer from benign thyroid nodules. In this study, we performed a multiphase, case-control study to screen serum miRNA expression profile in 100 patients with papillary thyroid cancer (PTC), 15 patients with aggressive medullary thyroid carcinoma (MTC), 91 patients with benign nodules, and 89 healthy controls using TaqMan low-density array followed by extensive reverse transcription quantitative real-time PCR validation. The results showed that the serum levels of miR-222-3p, miR-17-5p, and miR-451a were markedly increased, while miR-146a-5p, miR-132-3p, and miR-183-3p were significantly decreased in the PTC and benign nodule groups compared with the control group. There was no difference in the miRNA expression profile between the PTC group and the benign nodule group. Nevertheless, the serum levels of miR-222-3p and miR-17-5p were significantly increased in the MTC group than the benign nodule and control group. Moreover, receiver operating characteristic curve analyses demonstrated that the 2 miRNAs and their panel can accurately discriminate MTC from the benign nodule group and healthy controls. These findings indicated that the altered circulating miRNAs may discriminate PTC and benign thyroid nodules from controls, and serum miR-222-3p and miR-17-5p have the potential to serve as auxiliary tools for diagnosing more aggressive thyroid carcinomas, such as MTC.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Biomarkers, Tumor / genetics
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / blood
  • Carcinoma, Neuroendocrine / diagnosis
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / blood
  • Carcinoma, Papillary / diagnosis
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling
  • Gene Expression Regulation, Neoplastic
  • Humans
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / blood*
  • Middle Aged
  • RNA / metabolism
  • ROC Curve
  • Sensitivity and Specificity
  • Thyroid Cancer, Papillary / blood
  • Thyroid Cancer, Papillary / diagnosis*
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / blood
  • Thyroid Neoplasms / diagnosis*
  • Thyroid Nodule / blood
  • Thyroid Nodule / diagnosis*


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MicroRNAs
  • RNA

Supplementary concepts

  • Thyroid cancer, medullary