Differential diagnosis of adrenocortical adenoma (ACA) and carcinoma is of pivotal clinical relevance, as the prognosis and clinical management of benign and malignant adrenocortical tumors (ACTs) is entirely different. Circulating microRNAs (miRNAs) are promising biomarker candidates of malignancy in several tumors; however, there are still numerous technical problems associated with their analysis. The objective of our study was to investigate circulating miRNAs in ACTs and to evaluate their potential applicability as biomarkers of malignancy. We have also addressed technical questions including the choice of profiling and reference gene used. A total of 25 preoperative plasma samples obtained from patients with ACAs and carcinomas were studied by microarray and quantitative real-time PCR. None of the three miRNAs (hsa-miR-192, hsa-mir-197 and hsa-miR-1281) found as differentially expressed in plasma samples in our microarray screening could be validated by quantitative real-time PCR. In contrast, of the selected eight miRNAs reported in the literature as differentially expressed in ACT tissues, five (hsa-miR-100, hsa-miR-181b, hsa-miR-184, hsa-miR-210 and hsa-miR-483-5p) showed a statistically significant overexpression in adrenocortical cancer vs adenoma when normalized on hsa-miR-16 as a reference gene. Receiver operator characteristic analysis of data revealed that the combination of dCT hsa-miR-210 - dCT hsa-miR-181b and dCT hsa-miR-100 /dCT hsa-miR-181b showed the highest diagnostic accuracy (area under curve 0.87 and 0.85, respectively). In conclusion, we have found significant differences in expression of circulating miRNAs between ACAs and carcinomas, but their diagnostic accuracy is not yet high enough for clinical application. Further studies on larger cohorts of patients are needed to assess the diagnostic and prognostic potential application of circulating miRNA markers.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Molecular Biology
- Cell Biology