Over the last few years, incidental thyroid nodules are being diagnosed with increasing frequency with the use of highly sensitive imaging techniques. The ultrasound thyroid gland examination, followed by the fine-needle aspiration cytology is the standard diagnostic approach. However, in cases of the follicular nature of nodules, cytological diagnosis is not enough. Analysis of miRNAs in the biopsy presents a promising approach. Increasing our knowledge of miRNA's role in follicular carcinogenesis, and development of the appropriate the miRNA analytical technologies are required to implement miRNA-based tests in clinical practice. We used material from follicular thyroid nodes (n.84), grouped in accordance with their invasive properties. The invasion-associated miRNAs expression alterations were assayed. Expression data were confirmed by highly sensitive two-tailed RT-qPCR. Reciprocally dysregulated miRNAs pair concentration ratios were explored as a diagnostic parameter using receiver operation curve (ROC) analysis. A new bioinformatics method (MiRImpact) was applied to evaluate the biological significance of the observed expression alterations. Coupled experimental and computational approaches identified reciprocal dysregulation of miR-146b and miR-451 as important attributes of follicular cell malignant transformation and follicular thyroid cancer progression. Thus, evaluation of combined dysregulation of miRNAs relevant to invasion and metastasis can help to distinguish truly malignant follicular thyroid cancer from indolent follicular adenoma.
Keywords: RT-qPCR; follicular adenoma; follicular thyroid cancer; invasion; miRNA; reciprocal dysregulation.