The clinical utility of miR-21 as a diagnostic and prognostic marker for renal cell carcinoma

Hala Faragalla, Youssef M Youssef, Andreas Scorilas, Bishoy Khalil, Nicole M A White, Salvador Mejia-Guerrero, Heba Khella, Michael A S Jewett, Andrew Evans, Zsuzsanna Lichner, Georg Bjarnason, Linda Sugar, Magdy I Attalah, George M Yousef
Journal of Molecular Diagnostics: JMD 2012, 14 (4): 385-92
Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most common neoplasm of the kidney. Increasing evidence suggests that microRNAs are dysregulated in RCC and are important factors in RCC pathogenesis. miR-21 is a known oncogene with tumor-promoting effects in many types of cancer. In this study, we analyzed miR-21 in 121 cases of healthy kidney and different RCC subtypes, including clear cell (ccRCC), papillary (pRCC), chromophobe (chRCC), and oncocytoma. Total RNA was extracted, and the expression of miR-21 was measured with real-time quantitative RT-PCR using miR-21-specific probes. The expression of miR-21 was significantly up-regulated in RCC compared with healthy kidney. There was a significant difference in the expression levels between RCC subtypes, with the highest levels of expression in ccRCC and pRCC subtypes. miR-21 expression distinguished ccRCC and pRCC from chRCC and oncocytoma with 90% specificity (95% CI, 63.9% to 98.1%) and 83% sensitivity (95% CI, 53.5% to 97.6%). Significantly higher miR-21 levels were associated with higher stage and grade. Patients who were miR-21 positive had statistically significant shorter disease-free and overall survival rates. Thus, miR-21 is up-regulated in RCC, and its expression levels can be used as a diagnostic marker to distinguish ccRCC and pRCC from chRCC and oncocytoma. Moreover, it has potential as a prognostic marker in RCC, although it is not independent of tumor stage and grade.


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