Annals of Surgical Oncology

, Volume 22, Supplement 3, pp 536–544 | Cite as

Identification of microRNAs in Nipple Discharge as Potential Diagnostic Biomarkers for Breast Cancer

  • Kai Zhang
  • Song Zhao
  • Qing Wang
  • Hsin-Sheng Yang
  • Jiang Zhu
  • Rong Ma
Breast Oncology



Intraductal breast cancer is generally difficult to diagnose because of a lack of an efficient method for detection. The purpose of this study was to reveal and validate the differential expression of microRNAs (miRNAs) in nipple discharge from intraductal papilloma patients and identify miRNAs as novel potential biomarkers for primary breast cancer.


Nipple discharge samples were collected from three intraductal carcinoma breast cancer patients and three intraductal papilloma patients. The initial screening of miRNA expression was performed with an Axon GenePix 4000B microarray scanner using a novel approach to label miRNAs. The expression levels of the miRNAs selected from the initial screening were further examined by quantitative real-time polymerase chain reaction (qRT-PCR) in 21 validation samples (8 carcinomas and 13 benign tumors). An independent t test was used to detect significant correlations between the miRNA expression levels and breast cancer.


Microarray profiling demonstrated that three miRNAs were markedly up-regulated and three miRNAs were down-regulated in the intraductal carcinoma breast cancer patients compared to the papilloma group. The qRT-PCR analysis further verified that four miRNAs (miR-4484, miR-K12-5-5p, miR-3646, and miR-4732-5p) might serve as potential tumor biomarkers for breast cancer detection.


The novel approach of using a microarray scanner is applicable for studying biomarkers in nipple discharge containing small amounts of miRNA. miRNAs could serve as potential tumor biomarkers that can assist in breast cancer screening. Up-regulation of miR-4484, miR-K12-5-5p, and miR-3646 in nipple discharge may be a predictor of malignant breast cancer.


Breast Cancer Positive Predictive Value Negative Predictive Value miRNA Expression Nipple 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was supported by the Independent Innovation Foundation of Shandong University (Grant IIFSDU-2012TS159 to Kai Zhang), the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Grant 81402192 to Jiang Zhu), and partially supported by the National Institute of Health (Grant R01CA129015 to Hsin-Sheng Yang). We thank the members of Department of Breast Surgery, Qilu Hospital of Shandong University, for their advice on the research.



Supplementary material

10434_2015_4586_MOESM1_ESM.docx (19 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOCX 18 kb)
10434_2015_4586_MOESM2_ESM.tif (362 kb)
Receiver operating curve for the diagnosis of miRNAs in nipple discharge. (TIFF 362 kb)
10434_2015_4586_MOESM3_ESM.tif (3.1 mb)
Sequencing results of RT-PCR product. (a-e) Sequencing results of (a) miR-3646, (b)miR-4484, (c) miRK12-5-5p, (d) miR-4732-5p and (e) miR-4687-3p. (TIFF 3202 kb)


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Copyright information

© Society of Surgical Oncology 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Breast SurgeryQilu Hospital of Shandong UniversityJinanChina
  2. 2.Department of Toxicology and Cancer BiologyUniversity of KentuckyLexingtonUSA

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