Serum levels of hsa-miR-16-5p, hsa-miR-29a-3p, hsa-miR-150-5p, hsa-miR-155-5p and hsa-miR-223-3p and subsequent risk of chronic lymphocytic leukemia in the EPIC study

Int J Cancer. 2020 Sep 1;147(5):1315-1324. doi: 10.1002/ijc.32894. Epub 2020 Mar 2.


Chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL) is an incurable disease accounting for almost one-third of leukemias in the Western world. Aberrant expression of microRNAs (miRNAs) is a well-established characteristic of CLL, and the robust nature of miRNAs makes them eminently suitable liquid biopsy biomarkers. Using a nested case-control study within the European Prospective Investigation into Cancer and Nutrition (EPIC), the predictive values of five promising human miRNAs (hsa-miR-16-5p, hsa-miR-29a-3p, hsa-miR-150-5p, hsa-miR-155-5p and hsa-miR-223-3p), identified in a pilot study, were examined in serum of 224 CLL cases (diagnosed 3 months to 18 years after enrollment) and 224 matched controls using Taqman based assays. Conditional logistic regressions were applied to adjust for potential confounders. The median time from blood collection to CLL diagnosis was 10 years (p25-p75: 7-13 years). Overall, the upregulation of hsa-miR-150-5p, hsa-miR-155-5p and hsa-miR-29a-3p was associated with subsequent risk of CLL [OR1∆Ct-unit increase (95%CI) = 1.42 (1.18-1.72), 1.64 (1.31-2.04) and 1.75 (1.31-2.34) for hsa-miR-150-5p, hsa-miR-155-5p and hsa-miR-29a-3p, respectively] and the strongest associations were observed within 10 years of diagnosis. However, the predictive performance of these miRNAs was modest (area under the curve <0.62). hsa-miR-16-5p and hsa-miR-223-3p levels were unrelated to CLL risk. The findings of this first prospective study suggest that hsa-miR-29a, hsa-miR-150-5p and hsa-miR-155-5p were upregulated in early stages of CLL but were modest predictive biomarkers of CLL risk.

Keywords: chronic lymphocytic leukemia; circulating miRNA; prospective study; serum.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biomarkers, Tumor / blood
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Europe / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / blood*
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / diagnosis
  • Leukemia, Lymphocytic, Chronic, B-Cell / epidemiology
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs / blood*
  • Middle Aged
  • Odds Ratio
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • Prospective Studies
  • Up-Regulation


  • Biomarkers, Tumor
  • MicroRNAs