Research Papers:

Identification of serum miR-139-3p as a non-invasive biomarker for colorectal cancer

Lui Ng, Timothy Ming-Hun Wan, Johnny Hon-Wai Man, Ariel Ka-Man Chow, Deepak Iyer, Guanghua Chen, Thomas Chung-Cheung Yau, Oswens Siu-Hung Lo, Dominic Chi-Chung Foo, Jensen Tung-Chung Poon, Wai-Keung Leung, Roberta Wen-Chi Pang and Wai-Lun Law _

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Oncotarget. 2017; 8:27393-27400. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.16171

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Lui Ng1,*, Timothy Ming-Hun Wan1,*, Johnny Hon-Wai Man1, Ariel Ka-Man Chow1, Deepak Iyer1, Guanghua Chen1, Thomas Chung-Cheung Yau2, Oswens Siu-Hung Lo1, Dominic Chi-Chung Foo1, Jensen Tung-Chung Poon1, Wai-Keung Leung3, Roberta Wen-Chi Pang1,2, Wai-Lun Law1

1Department of Surgery, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

2Centre for Cancer Research, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

3Department of Medicine, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, The University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Wai-Lun Law, email: [email protected]

Roberta Wen-Chi Pang, email: [email protected]

Keywords: miR-139-3p, miR-622, CRC, miRNA, biomarker

Abbreviations: CRC, colorectal cancer

Received: May 16, 2016    Accepted: January 16, 2017    Published: March 14, 2017


Aberrant levels of circulating microRNAs are potential biomarkers for the early detection of colorectal cancer. The aim of this study was to study miR-139-3p and miR-622 in serum as a non-invasive biomarker for colorectal cancer diagnosis. We applied quantitative polymerase chain reaction to determine the levels of miR-139-3p and miR-622 in 42 pairs of tumor and adjacent non-tumor tissues, and in serum samples of 117 patients and 90 control subjects. Our results showed that miR-139-3p was silenced whereas miR-622 was overexpressed in colorectal cancer. Similarly, serum miR-139-3p level was significantly lower in colorectal cancer patients than in control subjects whereas miR-622 was more frequently detectable in patients. ROC analysis showed that AUC of miR-139-3p was 0.9935, with a sensitivity of 96.6% and specificity of 97.8%. Serum miR-139-3p level showed high sensitivity and specificity for both early and late stage CRCs and proximal and distal CRCs. Detectable serum miR-622 showed a sensitivity of 87.5% and specificity of 63.5% for discriminating CRC patients, but the sensitivity dropped for late stage patients (72.7%). We also included analyses of the blood CEA level for comparing the diagnostic performance of these blood-based biomarkers. The median level in CRC patients (3.6 ng/ml) was significantly higher than that in control (1.8 ng/ml). The AUC value of CEA in diagnosing CRC patients was 0.7515. CEA showed a positive correlation with tumor stage and age of patients and its level was higher in male. Collectively, serum miR-139-3p has strong potential as a promising non-invasive biomarker in colorectal cancer detection.

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