microRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs that negatively regulate gene expression at the post-transcriptional level. Increasing evidence emerging from human tumor preclinical models clearly indicates that specific miRNAs, collectively termed “metastamirs,” play a functional role in different steps of the metastatic cascade, by exerting either pro- or anti-metastatic functions, and behave as signaling mediators to enable tumor cell to colonize a specific organ. miRNAs also actively participate in the proficient interaction of cancer cells with tumor microenvironment, either at the primary or at the metastatic site. Circulating miRNAs, released by multiple cell types, following binding to proteins or encapsulation in extracellular vesicles, play a main role in this cross-talk by acting as transferrable messages. The documented involvement of specific miRNAs in the dissemination process has aroused interest in the development of miRNA-based strategies for the treatment of metastasis. Preclinical research carried out in tumor experimental models, using both miRNA replacement and miRNA inhibitory approaches, is encouraging towards translating miRNA-based strategies into human cancer therapy, based on the observed therapeutic activity in the absence of main toxicity. However, to accelerate their adoption in the clinic, further improvements in terms of efficacy and targeted delivery to the tumor are still necessary.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cancer Research