Jacobs Journal of Cancer Science and Research

Circulating microRNAs as Cancer Early Diagnostic Biomarkers-Promises and Concerns

Published on: 2014-07-24


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a large family of small non-coding RNAs that negatively regulate protein-coding gene expression post-transcriptionally. Since the discovery of first miRNA in 1993 and the first reporting of the presence of circulating miRNA in 2008, numerous studies have demonstrated the potential involvement of miRNAs in almost all aspects of cancer. In aiming to identify minimally invasive cancer early diagnostic biomarkers, a large number of studies have shown differential expression profiles or signatures of circulating miRNAs between healthy control populations and various cancer patients. Unfortunately, the reported circulating miRNA signatures that have been claimed to be able to separate healthy controls and cancer patients are often sporadic and lack consensus among different studies. Apparently, further studies are needed to identify and overcome potential confounding factors that contribute to this poor reproducibility of reported circulating miRNA signatures before the findings could be translated into clinical practice. In this short review, we will briefly discuss the promises and concerns of circulating miRNAs as cancer early diagnostic biomarkers.


Noncoding RNA; microRNA; Circulating microRNA; Cancer Diagnostic Biomarker