Pancreatic cancer (PC) is a lethal disease with disappointing results from current treatment modalities, suggesting that novel therapeutic strategies are urgently needed. Since microRNAs (miRNAs) are an important player in biology, the clinical utility of miRNAs for designing novel therapeutics is an active area of research. The objective of a recent study by researchers from Wayne State University School of Medicine was to examine differentially expressed miRNAs between normal and tumor tissues, and in plasma samples obtained from PC patients, chronic pancreatitis (CP) patients and healthy subjects (HC).

The miRNA expression profiling using formalin-fixed paraffin embedded (FFPE) tissues from normal and tumor specimens was accomplished using LC Sciences’ miRNA microarray service. Quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) was subsequently performed in individual samples for 7 selected miRNAs. In addition, qRT-PCR was also performed for assessing the expression of 8 selected miRNAs in plasma samples.

Researchers found a significant difference in the expressions of miR-21, miR-205, miR-155, miR-31, miR-203, miR-214 and miR-129-2 in tumor tissue samples. Lower expression of miR-214 was found to be associated with better overall survival. They also observed differential expression of 8 miRNAs in plasma samples of CP and PC patients compared to HC. Interestingly, over expression of miR-21, and miR-31was noted in both tumor tissues and in the plasma.


Comparative expression analysis of miR-21 and miR-205 in 37 pancreatic cancer patient’s tumor specimens compared to 24 pooled normal samples of FFPE tissue blocks

Investigators found deregulated expression of miRNAs that could distinguish normal from PC in two different types of samples (tissues and plasma). Interestingly, lower expression of miR-214 was found to be associated with better overall survival. Although not statistically significant, they also observed higher expression of let-7a and lower expression of miR-508 to be associated with overall better survival. They conclude that their study nicely lays the foundation for detailed future investigations for assessing the role of these miRNAs in the pathology of pancreatic cancer.

S. Ali, H. Dubaybo, R. E. Brand, F. H. Sarkar (2015) Differential Expression of MicroRNAs in Tissues and Plasma Co-exists as a Biomarker for Pancreatic Cancer J. Cancer Sci. Ther. 7:11 doi: [article]

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