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posted on 26.08.2021, 15:30 by Daniel Escuin, Laura López-Vilaró, Josefina Mora, Olga Bell, Antonio Moral, Ignacio Pérez, Cristina Arqueros, Bárbara García-Valdecasas, Teresa Ramón y Cajal, Enrique Lerma, Agustí Barnadas

MicroRNAs have emerged as important regulators of the metastatic process. In addition, circulating miRNAs appear to be surprisingly stable in peripheral blood making them ideal noninvasive biomarkers for disease diagnosis. Here, we performed a proof-of-principle study to investigate the expression profile of circulating miRNAs and their association with the metastatic lymph node status in early breast cancer patients. Sentinel lymph node status was detected by one-step nucleic acid (OSNA) analysis. We performed RNA-sequencing in 16 plasma samples and validated the results by qPCR. Gene Ontology term enrichment and KEGG pathway analyses were carried out using DAVID tools. We found16 differentially expressed miRNAs (q < 0.01) in patients with positive SLNs. Fourteen miRNAs were down-regulated (miR-339-5p, miR-133a-3p, miR-326, miR-331-3p, miR-369-3p, miR-328-3p, miR-26a-3p, miR-139-3p, miR-493-3p, miR-664a-5p, miR-146a-5p, miR-323b-3p, miR-1307-3p and miR-423-3p) and 2 were up-regulated (miR-101-3pand miR-144-3p). Hierarchical clustering using differentially expressed miRNAs clearly distinguished patients according to their lymph node status. Gene ontology analysis showed a significant enrichment of biological processes associated with the regulation of the epithelial mesenchymal transition, cell proliferation and transcriptional regulation. Our results suggest the potential role of several circulating miRNAs as surrogate markers of lymph node metastases in early breast cancer patients. Further validation in a larger cohort of patients will be necessary to confirm our results.

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