The Significance of MicroRNAs in the Molecular Pathology of Brain Metastases

Cancers (Basel). 2022 Jul 12;14(14):3386. doi: 10.3390/cancers14143386.


Brain metastases are the most frequent intracranial tumors in adults and the cause of death in almost one-fourth of cases. The incidence of brain metastases is steadily increasing. The main reason for this increase could be the introduction of new and more efficient therapeutic strategies that lead to longer survival but, at the same time, cause a higher risk of brain parenchyma infiltration. In addition, the advances in imaging methodology, which provide earlier identification of brain metastases, may also be a reason for the higher recorded number of patients with these tumors. Metastasis is a complex biological process that is still largely unexplored, influenced by many factors and involving many molecules. A deeper understanding of the process will allow the discovery of more effective diagnostic and therapeutic approaches that could improve the quality and length of patient survival. Recent studies have shown that microRNAs (miRNAs) are essential molecules that are involved in specific steps of the metastatic cascade. MiRNAs are endogenously expressed small non-coding RNAs that act as post-transcriptional regulators of gene expression and thus regulate most cellular processes. The dysregulation of these molecules has been implicated in many cancers, including brain metastases. Therefore, miRNAs represent promising diagnostic molecules and therapeutic targets in brain metastases. This review summarizes the current knowledge on the importance of miRNAs in brain metastasis, focusing on their involvement in the metastatic cascade and their potential clinical implications.

Keywords: biomarkers; brain metastases; metastatic cascade; microRNA.

Publication types

  • Review