Blood-derived lncRNAs as biomarkers for cancer diagnosis: the Good, the Bad and the Beauty

NPJ Precis Oncol. 2022 Jun 21;6(1):40. doi: 10.1038/s41698-022-00283-7.


Cancer ranks as one of the deadliest diseases worldwide. The high mortality rate associated with cancer is partially due to the lack of reliable early detection methods and/or inaccurate diagnostic tools such as certain protein biomarkers. Cell-free nucleic acids (cfNA) such as circulating long noncoding RNAs (lncRNAs) have been proposed as a new class of potential biomarkers for cancer diagnosis. The reported correlation between the presence of tumors and abnormal levels of lncRNAs in the blood of cancer patients has notably triggered a worldwide interest among clinicians and oncologists who have been actively investigating their potentials as reliable cancer biomarkers. In this report, we review the progress achieved ("the Good") and challenges encountered ("the Bad") in the development of circulating lncRNAs as potential biomarkers for early cancer diagnosis. We report and discuss the diagnostic performance of more than 50 different circulating lncRNAs and emphasize their numerous potential clinical applications ("the Beauty") including therapeutic targets and agents, on top of diagnostic and prognostic capabilities. This review also summarizes the best methods of investigation and provides useful guidelines for clinicians and scientists who desire conducting their own clinical studies on circulating lncRNAs in cancer patients via RT-qPCR or Next Generation Sequencing (NGS).

Publication types

  • Review