Analysis of microRNA expression in brush cytology specimens improves the diagnosis of pancreatobiliary cancer

N. Le, J. Fillinger, Sz Szanyi, B. Wichmann, Z. B. Nagy, G. Ivády, M. Burai, Tarpay, J. Pozsár, Pap, B. Molnár, O. Csuka, M. Bak, Z. Tulassay, R. Szmola

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

2 Citations (Scopus)


Background/Objectives: Malignant pancreatobiliary strictures are in many cases clinically indistinguishable and present a major problem to endoscopy specialists. Intraductal sampling procedures such as brush cytology are commonly used for diagnosis with a sensitivity that is low for a diagnostic test used in daily clinical practice. MicroRNA (miR) alterations detected in many cancers are disease-specific, which can be utilized in clinical applications. The aim of the present study was to analyze whether determination of miR expression levels in intraductal brush cytology specimens is a feasible approach to improve the diagnosis of pancreatobiliary cancer. Methods: Brush cytology specimens have been collected during endoscopic retrograde cholangio-pancreatography (ERCP) and analyzed by routine cytology and ancillary miR assays. Total RNA was extracted using the miRNeasy Mini Kit and the expression of miRs frequently dysregulated in pancreatobiliary cancer (miR-16, miR-21, miR-196a, miR-221) were analyzed by quantitative real-time PCR using RNU6B as internal control. Results: Routine cytology resulted in no false positive diagnoses, however, the combined sensitivity remained at 53.8%. Expression (ΔCt values) of miR-16 (p = 0.0039), miR-196a (p = 0.0003) and miR-221 (p = 0.0049) showed a clear statistical significance between malignant and benign pancreatobiliary specimens (n = 35). Malignancy could be detected combining routine cytology and the miR-196a single marker expression levels with a sensitivity of 84.6% (92.9% in biliary strictures) with no false positives. Conclusions: The results offer the first direct demonstration that microRNAs are readily detectable in brush cytology specimens obtained during ERCP, and have the potential to help the cytological diagnosis of pancreatobiliary malignancy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)873-879
Number of pages7
Issue number6
Publication statusPublished - Sep 2019


  • Bile duct cancer
  • ERCP
  • Intraductal sampling
  • miRNA

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology, Diabetes and Metabolism
  • Hepatology
  • Gastroenterology

Fingerprint Dive into the research topics of 'Analysis of microRNA expression in brush cytology specimens improves the diagnosis of pancreatobiliary cancer'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

  • Cite this