Research Papers:

Epstein-Barr virus mir-bart1-5p detection via nasopharyngeal brush sampling is effective for diagnosing nasopharyngeal carcinoma

Xiao-Hui Zheng, Li-Xia Lu, Cui Cui, Ming-Yuan Chen, Xi-Zhao Li and Wei-Hua Jia _

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Oncotarget. 2016; 7:4972-4980. https://doi.org/10.18632/oncotarget.6649

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Xiao-Hui Zheng1,2,*, Li-Xia Lu1,*, Cui Cui1,2,*, Ming-Yuan Chen1, Xi-Zhao Li1,2, and Wei-Hua Jia1,2

1Sun Yat-Sen University Cancer Center, State Key Laboratory of Oncology in South China, Collaborative Innovation Center for Cancer Medicine, Guangzhou 510060, China

2Department of Experimental Research, Sun Yat-Sen University Cancer Center, Guangzhou 510060, China

*These authors have contributed equally to this work

Correspondence to:

Wei-Hua Jia, e-mail: [email protected]

Keywords: nasopharyngeal carcinoma, Epstein-Barr virus, microRNA, nasopharyngeal brush, biomarker

Received: June 02, 2015    Accepted: December 02, 2015    Published: December 18, 2015


Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-encoded microRNAs (miRNAs) are highly expressed in nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC) cases in high-risk areas, and may be involved in tumorigenesis. Using quantitative RT-PCR, we detected four EBV-encoded BamHI A rightward transcript (BART) miRNAs (mir-bart1-5p, mir-bart5, mir-bart6-5p and mir-bart17-5p) exclusively in 53 NPC biopsies as compared to 69 controls. In a larger patient group, that included 215 NPC cases and 209 controls, significantly higher levels of all four EBV miRNAs were detected in tumor cells harvested directly from the nasopharynx using a less invasive nasopharyngeal (NP) brush than in the controls (p < 0.001). One EBV miRNA, mir-bart1-5p, holds particular promise for use as a diagnostic indicator of NPC (with 93.5% sensitivity and 100% specificity), and its relative expression level was reflective of disease progression. Detection of this miRNA was effective for diagnosing early-stage NPC, even in cases that were falsely diagnosed as negative based on histopathological analysis, plasma EBV DNA load, and VCA-IgA and EA-IgA titers. EBV-encoded mir-bart1-5p detection via NP brush sampling could act as an efficient and less invasive method assisting clinical diagnosis of NPC.

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