MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that play a pivotal role in many aspects of cell biology, including cancer development. Within esophageal cancer, miRNAs have been proved to be involved in all phases of carcinogenesis, from initiation to metastatic spread. Several miRNAs have been found to be dysregulated in esophageal premalignant lesions, namely Barrett's esophagus, Barrett's dysplasia, and squamous dysplasia. Furthermore, numerous studies have investigated the alteration in the expression levels of many oncomiRNAs and tumor suppressor miRNAs in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma and esophageal adenocarcinoma, thus proving how miRNAs are able modulate crucial regulatory pathways of cancer development. Considering these findings, miRNAs may have a role not only as a diagnostic and prognostic tool, but also as predictive biomarker of response to anti-cancer therapies and as potential therapeutic targets. This review aims to summarize several studies on the matter, focusing on the possible diagnostic-therapeutic implications.
Keywords: carcinogenetic cascade; esophageal cancer; microRNAs; predictive biomarker; targeted therapy.