Molecular detection of exosomal miRNAs of blood serum for prognosis of colorectal cancer

Colorectal cancer (CRC) stands as a formidable adversary, ranking as the third most prevalent cancer worldwide. Early detection is key to improving outcomes for patients, and the search for non-invasive, accurate biomarkers has been a priority in cancer research. Recent advancements have shed light on the potential of exosomal microRNAs (miRNAs) as promising candidates for CRC diagnosis and prognosis.

Exosomes, tiny vesicles released by cells, carry a cargo of molecular information, including miRNAs, which play crucial roles in cancer development and progression. Deep sequencing technologies have enabled researchers to delve into the intricate world of exosomal miRNAs, allowing for a comprehensive analysis of their abundance and diversity.

In a recent study, scientists at the University of Jeddah investigated the miRNA profile of CRC patients at various stages of the disease. Their findings unveiled a total of 660 mature miRNAs, with 29 showing differential expression compared to healthy controls. These miRNAs, either up-regulated (e.g., let-7a-5p, miR-423-5p) or down-regulated (e.g., miR-30a-5p, miR-99-5p), hold potential as diagnostic biomarkers for CRC.

Chord-diagram of 12 differentially expressed exosomal miRNAs
targeting several genes expressed in CRC

Figure 6

Around 49 target genes interacted with the 12 differently expressed exosomal miRNAs. miRNAs are defined in a different color, while each gene target is defined in gray color.

The dysregulation of these miRNAs can influence critical genes involved in CRC, affecting tumor growth and suppression. Interestingly, many of these diagnostic exosomal miRNAs were found circulating in the blood serum, offering a non-invasive means of detection.

Further analysis revealed that these miRNAs target genes implicated in various cancer pathways, including the CRC pathway and the transforming growth factor β (TGFβ) signaling pathway. These target genes encompass tumor suppressors, oncogenes, and DNA repair genes, highlighting the intricate interplay between miRNAs and cancer-related pathways.

While the findings of this study are promising, further research is needed to validate the exact relationship between these miRNAs and their target genes, as well as their functional consequences. Experimental confirmation of these interactions will pave the way for the development of novel diagnostic and therapeutic strategies for CRC.

Exosomal miRNAs represent a valuable resource in the quest for effective CRC biomarkers. By unraveling their role in cancer development, researchers are one step closer to improving early detection and personalized treatment options for patients battling this disease.

Bakhsh T, Alhazmi S, Farsi A, Yusuf AS, Alharthi A, Qahl SH, Alghamdi MA, Alzahrani FA, Elgaddar OH, Ibrahim MA, Bahieldin A. (2024) Molecular detection of exosomal miRNAs of blood serum for prognosis of colorectal cancer. Sci Rep 14(1):8902. [article]

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