Urinary miRNA biomarker panel for colorectal cancer.

February 2022 Science Nalinee Pandey
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Researchers have identified a panel of microRNAs as non-invasive biomarkers for the early detection of colorectal cancer. This work was published in the journal Cancers.

Misregulation of microRNAs (miRNAs) is reported in a variety of human malignancies. As miRNAs are stable molecules under various storage conditions, they can be used as biomarkers for cancer detection. Researchers from Japan performed a study to identify reliable and non-invasive miRNA biomarkers in the urine of colorectal cancer (CRC) patients.

Study Design

The study enrolled 415 sex and age-matched participants consisting of 206 CRC patients and 209 healthy controls (HC). All the participants were randomly divided into three groups: the discovery cohort (CRC: n=3 patients; HC: n=6) involving the discovery of miRNA candidates using miRNA microarray, the training cohort (n=140 pairs) involving the establishment of miRNA panel by qPCR, and the validation cohort (n=63 pairs) where urinary miRNA biomarkers were validated in an independent cohort.


The discovery cohort identified 11 urinary miRNAs aberrantly expressed between the CRC and HC groups. Using qRT-PCR in the training cohort, the authors identified three miRNAs (miR-129-1-3p, miR-566, and miR-598-5p) that had elevated expression in the urine of the CRC group versus the HC group. Finally, miRNA validation in the independent cohort demonstrated that combining miR-129-1-3p and miR-566 could detect even stage 0/I CRC effectively with an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.845.

Notably, both these miRNAs had an elevated expression in the primary tissue compared to the adjacent normal tissue.


Expression studies in urine samples of CRC patients establish miR-129-1-3p and miR-566 as urine biomarkers that can noninvasively detect early CRC. Most importantly, this urinary combination biomarker panel had a sensitivity of 82.8% for stage 0/I CRC.


Iwasaki H, Shimura T, Kitagawa M, et al. A Novel Urinary miRNA Biomarker for Early Detection of Colorectal Cancer. Cancers (Basel). 2022 Jan 17;14(2):461.