Alessandra Capodanno et al., Let-7g and miR-21 expression in non-small cell lung cancer: Correlation with clinicopathological and molecular features. International Journal of Oncology

Authors: Alessandra Capodanno, Laura Boldrini, Agnese Proietti, Greta Alì, Serena Pelliccioni, Cristina Niccoli, Armida D’Incecco, Federico Cappuzzo, Antonio Chella, Marco Lucchi, Alfredo Mussi, Gabriella Fontanini

Department of Surgical, Medical, Molecular Pathology and Critical Area, University of Pisa, I-56126 Pisa, Italy,
Unit of Pathological Anatomy III, A.O.U.P., I-56126 Pisa, Italy,
Unit of Medical Oncology, Civil Hospital, I-57125 Livorno, Italy,
Division of Pneumology II, A.O.U.P., I-56126 Pisa, Italy,
Unit of Thoracic Surgery, A.O.U.P., I-56126 Pisa, Italy


MicroRNAs (miRNAs) play a key role in cancer pathogenesis and are involved in several human cancers, including non-small cell lung cancer (NSCLC). This study evaluated Let-7g and miR-21 expression by quantitative real-time PCR in 80 NSCLC patients and correlated the results with their main clinicopathological and molecular features. MiR-21 expression was significantly higher in NSCLC tissues compared to non-cancer lung tissues (p<0.0001), while no significant changes in Let-7g expression were observed between the tumor and normal lung tissues. Target prediction analysis led to the identification of 26 miR-21 and 24 Let-7g putative target genes that play important roles in cancer pathogenesis and progression. No significant association was observed between the analysed miRNAs and the main clinicopathological or molecular characteristics of the NSCLC patients, although both miRNAs were downregulated in squamous cell carcinomas compared to adenocarcinomas. Noteworthy, we observed a significant association between low Let-7g expression and metastatic lymph nodes at diagnosis (p=0.046), as well as between high miR-21 expression and K-Ras mutations (p=0.0003). Survival analysis did not show any significant correlation between prognosis and the analysed miRNAs, although the patients with a high Let-7g and miR-21 expression showed a significantly lower short-term progression-free survival (p=0.01 and p=0.0003, respectively) and overall survival (p=0.023 and p=0.0045, respectively). In conclusion, we showed that Let-7g and miR-21 expression was deregulated in NSCLC and we demonstrated a strong relationship between miR-21 overexpression and K-Ras mutations. Our data indicate that Let-7g and miR-21 profiling combined with the determination of K-Ras mutational status may be considered a useful biomarker for a more effective molecular characterization and clinical management of NSCLC patients.

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