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World J Gastroenterol. May 21, 2010; 16(19): 2348-2354
Published online May 21, 2010. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v16.i19.2348
Circulating microRNAs: Novel biomarkers for esophageal cancer
Sheng-Li Zhou, Li-Dong Wang
Sheng-Li Zhou, Li-Dong Wang, Cancer Research Center, Xinxiang Medical University, Xinxiang 453003, Henan Province, China; Henan Key Laboratory for Esophageal Cancer Research, Basic Medical College, Zhengzhou University, Zhengzhou 450052, Henan Province, China
Author contributions: Zhou SL and Wang LD contributed equally to this work.
Correspondence to: Li-Dong Wang, Professor, MD, PhD, Cancer Research Center, Xinxiang Medical University, East of Jinsui Road, Xinxiang 453003, Henan Province, China.
Telephone: +86-371-66658335 Fax: +86-371-66658335
Received: February 7, 2010
Revised: March 19, 2010
Accepted: March 26, 2010
Published online: May 21, 2010

Esophageal carcinogenesis is a multi-stage process, involving a variety of changes in gene expression and physiological structure change. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of small non-coding endogenous RNA molecules. Recent innovation in miRNAs profiling technology have shed new light on the pathology of esophageal carcinoma (EC), and also heralded great potential for exploring novel biomarkers for both EC diagnosis and treatment. Frequent dysregulation of miRNA in malignancy highlights the study of molecular factors upstream of gene expression following the extensive investigation on elucidating the important role of miRNA in carcinogenesis. We herein present a thorough review of the role of miRNAs in EC, addressing miRNA functions, their putative role as oncogenes or tumor suppressors and their potential target genes. The recent progresses in discovering the quantifiable circulating cancer-associated miRNAs indicate the potential clinical use of miRNAs as novel minimally invasive biomarkers for EC and other cancers. We also discuss the potential role of miRNAs in detection, screening and surveillance of EC as miRNAs can be a potential target in personalized treatment of EC.

Keywords: Esophageal cancer, Circulating microRNA