Published online Jan 7, 2016. doi: 10.3748/wjg.v22.i1.1
Peer-review started: August 19, 2015
First decision: October 14, 2015
Revised: October 20, 2015
Accepted: November 9, 2015
Article in press: November 9, 2015
Published online: January 7, 2016
The incidence of esophageal cancer is rising, mostly because the increasing incidence of esophageal adenocarcinoma in Western countries. Despite improvements in diagnosis and treatment, the overall 5-year survival rates remain low. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNA molecules that regulate the expression of target genes. Recently, disease specific miRNAs have been identified, which act as tumor suppressors or oncogenes. In this review, we will summarize the current knowledge about the function of aberrantly expressed miRNAs in esophageal cancer. We selected 5 miRNAs (miRNA-21, -143, -145, -196a and let-7) based on the available literature, and described their potential role in regulating pathways that are deregulated in esophageal cancer. Finally we will highlight the current achievements of using and targeting miRNAs. Because these miRNAs likely have important regulatory roles in cancer development, they open a therapeutic window for new treatment modalities.
Core tip: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) likely have important regulatory roles in the development of cancer as they target essential pathways. Here, we review the function of aberrantly expressed miRNAs in esophageal cancer, with the aim to provide guidelines for future studies focusing on the function of miRNAs and the development of new treatment modalities.