MicroRNAs (miRNAs) offer great potential as cancer biomarkers. The importance of miRNAs profiling in tissue and body fluids in colorectal cancer (CRC) have been addressed respectively in many studies. The purpose of our study is to systematically assess the expression of miRNAs in cancer tissue and matched plasma samples and to evaluate their usefulness as minimally invasive diagnostic biomarkers for the detection of CRC.
The study was divided into two phases: firstly, qRT-PCR based TaqMan Low Density MiRNA Arrays (TLDAs) was used to screen the differentially expressed miRNAs in 6 plasma samples of CRC patients and 6 healthy controls. Secondly, marker validation by stem-loop reverse transcription real-time PCR using an independent set of paired cancer tissues (n = 88) and matched plasma samples (CRC, n = 88; control, n = 40). Correlation analysis was determined by Pearson’s test. Receiver operating characteristic curve analyses were applied to obtain diagnostic utility of the differentially expressed miRNAs. Target gene prediction and signal pathway analyses were used to predict the function of miRNAs.
TLDAs identified 42 miRNAs, which were differentially expressed in patients and healthy individuals. Five of them (miR-375, miR-150, miR-206, miR-125b and miR-126*) were chosen to be validated in plasma and tissue samples. The results indicated that for plasma sample, miR-375 (p < 0.0001) and miR-206 (p = 0.0002) were dysregulated and could discriminate CRC patients from healthy controls. For tissue samples, miR-375 (p < 0.0001), miR-150 (p < 0.0001), miR-125b (p = 0.0065) and miR-126*(p = 0.0009) were down-regulated. miR-375 was significantly down-regulated and positively correlated in both tissue and plasma samples (r = 0.4663, p = 0.0007). Gene ontology and signal pathway analyses showed that most of the target genes that were regulated by miR-375 were involved in some critical pathways in the development and progression of cancer.
Our results indicate that the down-regulation of miR-375 in plasma and tissue is matched in CRC. Moreover, bioinformatics prediction revealed miR-375 association with some critical signal pathways in the development and progression of CRC. Therefore, plasma miR-375 holds great promise to be an alternative tissue biomarker for CRC detection.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1471-2407-14-714) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.