A signature of four circulating micrornas as potential biomarkers for diagnosing early-stage breast cancer

Maha M. Itani, Farah J. Nassar, Arafat H. Tfayli, Rabih S. Talhouk, Ghada K. Chamandi, Abdul Rahman S. Itani, Joelle Makoukji, Rose Mary N. Boustany, Lifang Hou, Nathalie K. Zgheib*, Rihab R. Nasr*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

32 Scopus citations


Breast cancer (BC) is the most predominant type of cancer among women. The aim of this study is to find new biomarkers that can help in early detection of BC, especially for those who are too young to be screened using mammography as per guidelines. Using microRNA microarray, we previously showed dysregulation of 74 microRNAs in tumors from early BC patients as compared with normal adjacent tissues, which we were interested in studying in blood circulation. In this study, we investigated the expression of 12 microRNA (miR-21/miR-155/miR-23a/miR-130a/miR-145/miR-425-5p/miR-139-5p/miR-451/miR-195/miR-125b/miR-100, and miR-182) in the plasma of 41 newly diagnosed Lebanese BC patients with early invasive ductal carcinoma as compared with 32 healthy controls. Total RNA was extracted from plasma, and expression levels of miRNA of interest were measured using RT-qPCR followed by statistical analysis; miR-21, miR-155, miR-23a, miR-130a, miR-145, miR-425-5p, and miR-139-5p were significantly upregulated and miR-451 was significantly downregulated, in the plasma of BC patients as compared with healthy controls. The positively correlated miR-23a, miR-21, and miR-130a had a high diagnostic accuracy (86%). Importantly, the combination of miR-145/miR-425-5p/miR-139-5p/miR-130a scored the highest diagnostic accuracy of 95% with AUC = 0.97 (sensitivity 97% and specificity 91%). MicroRNAs are promising non-invasive diagnostic biomarkers for early-stage BC with the panel of miR-145/miR-425-5p/miR-139-5p/miR-130a having the highest diagnostic accuracy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number6121
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number11
StatePublished - Jun 1 2021


  • Breast cancer
  • Circulating biomarkers
  • Diagnosis
  • Early stage
  • Liquid biopsy
  • MicroRNA
  • ROC curve

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Molecular Biology
  • Spectroscopy
  • Catalysis
  • Inorganic Chemistry
  • Computer Science Applications
  • Physical and Theoretical Chemistry
  • Organic Chemistry


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