Fecal microRNA profile in patients with colorectal carcinoma before and after curative surgery

M. T. Rotelli, M. Di Lena, A. Cavallini, C. Lippolis, L. Bonfrate, N. Chetta, P. Portincasa, D. F. Altomare

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Purpose: The purpose of this study was to explore the potential role of deranged fecal microRNA (miRNA) pattern as a reliable warning signal of colorectal cancer (CRC), a subset of fecal CRC-related miRNAs was evaluated in CRC patients, before and after surgery, and in healthy controls. Methods: Twenty CRC patients and 20 age/sex-matched healthy volunteers with negative colonoscopy entered the study. Cancer biopsy, colonic mucosa from the resected specimens, and fecal samples from patients and controls were screened for 13 miRNAs involved in CRC onset and progressions by reverse transcription quantitative PCR (RT-qPCR). Postoperative evaluation of fecal miRNAs was carried out after a median follow-up of 18 months (range 12–30). Results: Two out 13 miRNAs (RNU6B, miR-16-3p) were used as internal controls leaving 11 available for analysis. Cancer tissue contained significantly higher expression of all miRNAs, compared to normal mucosa (p <0.05). Expression of preoperative levels of five fecal miRNAs, (miR-19-b-3p, miR-20a-5p, miR-21-3p, miR92a-3p, miR141) was significantly higher in CRC patients compared to controls and significantly decreased after curative surgery. Three out of these five miRNAs (miR20a-5p, miR21-3p, and miR141) returned to values comparable to normal controls. Conclusions: A set of three specific fecal miRNAs is overexpressed before surgery, and return within the normal range after cancer removal could be considered as an appealing opportunity for a new reliable tool for CRC secondary prevention. However, their role needs to be explored in large prospective trials and compared with the existing screening tools.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)891-898
Number of pages8
JournalInternational Journal of Colorectal Disease
Issue number7
Publication statusPublished - Jul 19 2015


  • Colorectal cancer
  • Fecal microRNA
  • Follow-up
  • Screening

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Gastroenterology


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