microRNAs and Esophageal Cancer - Implications for Pathogenesis and Therapy
Mayne, George C A
Hussey, Damian James
Watson, David Ian
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There are several microRNAs that have been consistently reported to be differentially expressed in esophageal squamous cell carcinoma vs. normal squamous tissue, with prognostic associations for miR-21 (invasion, positive nodes, decreased survival), miR-143 (disease recurrence, invasion depth), and miR-375 (inversely correlated with advanced stage, distant metastasis, poor overall survival, and disease-free survival). There is also evidence that miR-375 regulates gene expression associated with resistance to chemotherapy. Hence, microRNA expression assays have the potential to provide clinically relevant information about prognosis and potential response to chemotherapy in patients with esophageal squamous cell carcinoma. Results are inconsistent, however, for microRNAs across different studies for esophageal adenocarcinoma (EAC) vs. its precursor lesion Barrett’s esophagus. These inconsistencies may partly result from pathological and/or molecular heterogeneity in both Barrett’s esophagus and EAC, but may also result from differences in study designs or different choices of comparator tissues. Despite these inconsistencies, however, several mRNA/protein targets have been identified, the cancer related biology of some of these targets is well understood, and there are clinico-pathological associations for some of these mRNA targets. MicroRNAs also have potential for use in therapy for esophageal cancers. The development of new delivery methods, such as minicells and autologous microvesicles, and molecular modifications such as the addition of aromatic benzene pyridine analogs, have facilitated the exploration of the effects of therapeutic microRNAs in vivo. These approaches are producing encouraging results, with one technology in a phase I/IIa clinical trial.