MicroRNAs And Cancer: Current State And Future Perspectives In Urologic Oncology
March 08, 2018
UroToday - The related review summarizes the current state of microRNA (miRNA) research in urology and gives an outlook on potential diagnostic and therapeutic value of miRNAs.
miRNAs are short non-coding RNAs which play a crucial role in posttranscriptional gene regulation. So far, very few miRNA related articles have been published in uro-oncology (22 for prostate, 4 for kidney, 3 for bladder and 6 for testis). Although cancer specific expression patterns of miRNAs are shown, data are limited and partially inconsistent. For prostate cancer, only four studies compared miRNA expression by microarray analyses in more than 10 samples. While Ozen et al.  observed an overall downregulation of miRNAs, the other 3 studies [2-4] identified both up- and down-regulated miRNAs. Comparison of these 3 studies reveals no accordance of miRNA regulation. Some miRNAs even showed opposite expression patterns. Further, only few microarray data were validated in RT-PCR analyses with similar discrepancies. For other urological tumors data are even more limited.
Association of miRNA expression with clinical data is also sparse. In prostate cancer, only two miRNAs were identified which are differentially expressed in tumors with Gleason >7 . It was further observed that androgen-responsibility played a major role for miRNA expression . For kidney and bladder cancer no significant changes in miRNA expression were found for tumor stage, grade or histotype .
Especially for the application of miRNAs in therapy, their targets have to be identified. Target research is still in its infancy in uro-oncology but regulation of known oncogenes or tumor-supressor genes by miRNAs has been shown. Validated miRNA targets are for example p27  in prostate cancer or E2F3  in kidney cancer.
Despite of the sparse data in urological tumors, the utilisation of miRNAs as biomarkers has been shown in other cancer types. Lu et al.  developed a miRNA based classifier and identified 12 out of 17 poorly classified carcinomas correctly, whereas an mRNA based classifier identified only 1 sample correctly. First successful studies of miRNAs in the blood of patient with prostate cancer support the feasibility of miRNAs as diagnostic, prognostic, and predictive markers .
Identification of altered miRNA expression, as well as their targets, provides new opportunities for therapeutic strategies. Studies regarding therapeutic utilisation of miRNAs yielded encouraging results. It was demonstrated that antisense oligonucleotides termed "antagomirs" can specifically reduce miRNA expression and successfully inhibit tumor growth . Alternatively, transfection of synthetic miRNAs ("agomirs") could knock-down expression of oncogenes . Another promising approach seems to be "miRNA sponges". These sponges are RNAs expressed by transgenes which competitively bind to miRNA targets thereby de-repressing them . As many miRNAs where shown to be regulated by epigenetic mechanisms, epigenetic drugs could also regulate miRNA expression. For example, miR-127 is down-regulated by methylation of CpG islands in bladder cancer. Treatment with epigenetic drugs lead to up-regulation of miR-127 resulting in decreased tumor proliferation .
In conclusion, the current knowledge shows that miRNA research in uro-oncology is still in its infancy but nevertheless the available data indicate the great potential of miRNAs in diagnostic and therapy.
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Annika Schaefer1,2, Monika Jung1, Carsten Stephan1, Glen Kristiansen3 and Klaus Jung1,2 as part of Beyond the Abstract on UroToday.
1 Department of Urology, University Hospital Charité, University Medicine Berlin, Schumannstr. 20/21, 10117 Berlin, Germany
2 Berlin Institute for Urologic Research and Foundation of Urologic Research, Robert-Koch-Platz 7, 10115 Berlin, Germany
3 Department of Surgical Pathology, University Hospital Zurich, Zurich, Switzerland
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