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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2011 Apr 19;108(16):6573-8. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1019557108. Epub 2011 Apr 1.

MicroRNA as biomarkers and regulators in B-cell chronic lymphocytic leukemia.

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  • 1Laboratory of Experimental Hemato-Oncology, Centre de Recherche Public-Santé, L-1526 Luxembourg.


Early cancer detection and disease stratification or classification are critical to successful treatment. Accessible, reliable, and informative cancer biomarkers can be medically valuable and can provide some relevant insights into cancer biology. Recent studies have suggested improvements in detecting malignancies by the use of specific extracellular microRNAs (miRNAs) in plasma. In chronic lymphocytic leukemia (CLL), an incurable hematologic disorder, sensitive, early, and noninvasive diagnosis and better disease classification would be very useful for more effective therapies. We show here that circulating miRNAs can be sensitive biomarkers for CLL, because certain extracellular miRNAs are present in CLL patient plasma at levels significantly different from healthy controls and from patients affected by other hematologic malignancies. The levels of several of these circulating miRNAs also displayed significant differences between zeta-associated protein 70 (ZAP-70)(+) and ZAP-70(-) CLL. We also determined that the level of circulating miR-20a correlates reliably with diagnosis-to-treatment time. Network analysis of our data, suggests a regulatory network associated with BCL2 and ZAP-70 expression in CLL. This hypothesis suggests the possibility of using the levels of specific miRNAs in plasma to detect CLL and to determine the ZAP-70 status.

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