, Volume 8, Issue 1, pp 22-31

The Diagnostic, Prognostic, and Predictive Potential of MicroRNA Biomarkers in Colorectal Cancer

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Abstract

MicroRNAs (or miRNAs) are small transcripts of 20–24 nucleotides that have emerged as important regulators of gene expression in cancer cells. Overexpression and silencing of specific miRNAs has been linked to the stepwise disease progression during the normal adenoma-cancer sequence in colorectal cancer (CRC). Given their cancer-specific pattern of expression, remarkable stability, and presence in blood and other body fluids, miRNAs are considered to be highly promising cancer biomarkers. Although the use of miRNA biomarkers for CRC is still in its infancy, accumulating evidence firmly supports the existence of unique “miRNA signatures” that can not only facilitate earlier detection of the tumor, but can also assist in predicting disease recurrence and therapeutic outcome to currently available treatment regimens. There is a great hope and promise that some of these miRNA biomarkers will eventually be validated in large-scale clinical trials, and if successful, it will open new avenues for the earlier diagnosis and personalization of therapy for CRC. In this review, we summarize the current state of literature on the potential diagnostic, prognostic, and predictive potential of miRNA biomarkers in CRC.