Published online May 21, 2010. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v16.i19.2348
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.