Circulating biomarkers in renal cell carcinoma: the link between microRNAs and extracellular vesicles, where are we now?

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Ana L Teixeira
Francisca Dias
Mónica Gomes
Mara Fernandes
Rui Medeiros

Keywords

MicroRNA, renal cell carcinoma, extracellular vescicles

Abstract

Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is a lethal urological cancer, with incidence and mortality rates increasing by 2-3% per decade. The lack of   standard screening tests contributes to the fact that one-third of patients are diagnosed with locally invasive or metastatic disease. Moreover, 20-40% of RCC patients submitted to surgical nephrectomy will develop metastasis. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs responsible for gene regulation at a post-transcriptional level.  It is accepted that they are deregulated in cancer and can influence tumor development. Thus, miRNAs are promising RCC biomarkers, since they can be detected using non-invasive methods. They are highly stable and easier to quantify in circulating biofluids. The elevated miRNA stability in circulating samples may be the consequence of their capacity to circulate inside of extracellular microvesicles (EMVs), for example, the exosomes.  The EMVs are bilayered membrane vesicles secreted by all cell types. They can be released in the interstitial space or into circulating biofluids, which allows the travelling, binding and entrance of these vesicles in receptor cells. This type of cell communication can shuttle bioactive molecules between cells, allowing the horizontal transference of genetic material. In this review, we focus on circulating miRNAs (miR-210, miR-1233, miR-221, miR-15a, miR-451, miR-508, miR-378) in the biofluids of RCC patients and attempt to establish the diagnostic and prognostic accuracy, their synergic effects, and the pathways involved in RCC biology.

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