Virchows Archiv

, Volume 454, Issue 4, pp 359–367 | Cite as

The impact of microRNAs on colorectal cancer

Review and Perspective


MicroRNAs are small RNAs that regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. After their discovery 15 years ago, a new layer of gene regulation was introduced into every field of human biology and medicine. Considering the strong association between genetic alterations and neoplastic diseases, it is not surprising that there is a special focus on miRNAs and cancer. A multitude of experimental studies on colorectal cancer, the most common cancer site and furthermore the second most common cause of death due to cancer, deliver insight into miRNA-mediated, regulatory links to well-known oncogenic and tumour suppressor signalling pathways. Furthermore, several investigations have described the ability of microRNA expression patterns to predict prognosis in colon cancer and support diagnosis of poorly differentiated tumours. In this short review, we give a comprehensive overview focussed on miRNAs in colorectal cancer research.


microRNA Colorectal cancer Carcinogenesis Epithelial–mesenchymal transition 



3′ untranslated regions of mRNAs


Colorectal cancer


Connective tissue growth factor


Cancer of unknown primary


Epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition




miRNA serial analysis of gene expression


messenger RNA


programmed cell death 4


Phosphatidylinositol-3-kinase-AKT pathway


Phosphatase and tensin homolog


Small interfering RNA


Single nucleotide polymorphism


Silent information regulator 1


Transforming growth factor β


Tumour necrosis factor α




International Union Against Cancer (classification system)


Zinc finger E-box binding homeobox 1/2


Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2009

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Institute of PathologyLudwig-Maximilians-University of MunichMunichGermany

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