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Am J Clin Pathol. 2011 Jan;135(1):119-25. doi: 10.1309/AJCPOE11KEYZCJHT.

Identification of microRNAs From the miR-371~373 and miR-302 clusters as potential serum biomarkers of malignant germ cell tumors.

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  • 1University of Cambridge, England.


Current serum biomarkers for diagnosis and monitoring of malignant germ cell tumors (GCTs) show limited sensitivity and specificity. We previously observed that microRNAs of the miR-371∼373 and miR-302 clusters are overexpressed in all malignant GCTs, regardless of patient age, histologic subtype, or anatomic site, but are not reported to be coordinately up-regulated in other tumor types or disease states. Herein we show that levels of all 8 main members of the miR-371∼373 and miR-302 clusters were elevated in the serum of a 4-year-old boy at the time of diagnosis of yolk sac tumor. Levels returned to normal during an uneventful clinical follow-up, with kinetics similar to those of the conventional marker α-fetoprotein. We describe in detail the multiplex polymerase chain reaction protocol used to quantify serum microRNA levels, which is highly robust and reproducible. Our study indicates that miR-371∼373 and miR-302 cluster microRNAs are promising candidate biomarkers for improving disease monitoring (and potentially diagnosis) in malignant GCTs.

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