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Circulating microRNAs as Potential Diagnostic, Prognostic and Therapeutic Targets in Pancreatic Cancer

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Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma (PDAC) is an aggressive malignancy with a very poor prognosis, and excessive resistance to chemotherapy. MicroRNAs have been shown to play important roles in PDAC oncogenesis as they can act as both oncogenes and tumor suppressor molecules. Altered expression of specific microRNAs in PDAC has diagnostic and prognostic implications. There is growing body of evidence showing the important role of miR-486-5p and miR-938 for discrimination of PDAC patients from healthy subjects and those with chronic pancreatitis. Additionally the diagnostic features of miR-486-5p were comparable with CA 19-9 for the detection of PDAC patients, suggesting its diagnostic value as a blood-based miRNA in PDAC, although further investigations are warranted for validation of this marker. In addition to these applications, several studies have suggested therapeutic potential of some miRNAs in PDAC. In particular, modulations of let-7, miR-29a, miR-17-5p, miR-365, miR-181b, miR-21, miR-221 and miR-96 are reported to be associated with tumor response. Moreover, enforced expression of miR-17-92 inhibits tumourigenicity and increased chemoresistance in PDAC cancer stem cells via TGF-β1 pathway, while overexpression of miR-96 suppresses cell proliferation, migration, and invasion in a manner associated with KRAS downregulation. In this review we attempt to give an overview about recent preclinical and clinical studies that have addressed the potential use of circulating microRNAs as diagnostic and prognostic biomarkers, their use as therapeutic targets and finally, we discuss the possible role of microRNAs in PDAC chemoresistance.
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Keywords: MicroRNA; Pancreatic ductal adenocarcinoma; diagnostic biomarkers

Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: November 1, 2016

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