Non-coding RNA as a biomarker of gastric cancer

July 2020 Science Eline Feenstra
pcr polymerase chain reaction process

The gastric cancer (GC)–associated long noncoding RNA1 (lncRNA-GC1) plays an important role in gastric carcinogenesis. However, exosomal lncRNA-GC1 and its potential role in GC are poorly understood. A new study published in JAMA surgery focused on the diagnostic value of circulating exosomal lncRNA-GC1 for early detection and monitoring progression of GC.

Circulating exosomal lncRNA-GC1 levels were studied in patients with GC (n = 522), patients with gastric precancerous lesions (n ​​= 85) and healthy individuals (n = 219). LncRNA-GC1 was measured by reverse transcription–polymerase chain reaction by independent researchers who had no access to patients’ information. Receiver operating characteristic curves were used to calculate diagnostic efficiency in comparison between lncRNA-GC1 and 3 traditional biomarkers (carcinoembryonic antigen [CEA], cancer antigen 72-4 [CA72-4], and CA19-9). The primary outcomes were the area under curve (AUC), the specificity and sensitivity.

Detection and disease progression

In the test phase, lncRNA-GC1 achieved better diagnostic performance than the standard biomarkers CEA, CA72-4, and CA19-9 (AUC = 0.9033) for distinguishing between the patients with GC and healthy individuals. Additionally, exosomal lncRNA-GC1 levels were significantly higher in culture media from GC cells compared with those of normal gastric epithelial cells (t = 5.310; P = .002). In the verification phase, lncRNA-GC1 retained its diagnostic efficiency in discriminating patients with GC from those with gastric precancerous lesions as well from healthy individuals. Moreover, lncRNA-GC1 exhibited a higher AUC compared with those of CEA, CA72-4, and CA19-9 for early detection of GC with sufficient specificity and sensitivity, especially for patients with GC with negative standard biomarkers. Moreover, the levels of circulating exosomal lncRNA-GC1 were significantly associated with GC from early to advanced stages (healthy vs stage I, t = 20.98; P < .001; stage I vs stage II, t = 2.787; P = .006; stage II vs stage III, t = 4.471; P < .001; stage III vs stage IV, t = 1.023; P = .30).

In conclusion, circulating exosomal lncRNA-GC1 may serve as a noninvasive biomarker for detecting early-stage GC and for monitoring disease progression. Combining circulating exosomal lncRNA-GC1 detection with endoscopy could improve the early diagnostic rate of GC.


Xin Guo, Xiaohui Lv, Yi Ru et al. Circulating Exosomal Gastric Cancer-Associated Long Noncoding RNA1 as a Biomarker for Early Detection and Monitoring Progression of Gastric Cancer: A Multiphase Study. JAMA Surg. 2020 Jun 10;e201133.