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BMC Res Notes. 2010 Dec 24;3:347. doi: 10.1186/1756-0500-3-347.

Impact on cell to plasma ratio of miR-92a in patients with acute leukemia: in vivo assessment of cell to plasma ratio of miR-92a.

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Institute of Medical Science, Tokyo Medical University, Tokyo, Japan.



Plasma microRNA (miRNA) has become a promising biomarker for detecting cancer; however, it remains uncertain whether miRNA expression levels in plasma reflect those in tumor cells. Our aim was to determine the biological relevance of miR-92a, which has been implicated as an oncomiR in both plasma and leukemia cells in patients with acute leukemia and to evaluate whether it could be a novel biomarker for monitoring these patients.


We quantified the expression level of miR-92a in both cells and plasma by reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction in 91 patients with acute leukemia. We also determined miR-92a expression levels in peripheral blood mononuclear cells (PBMNC) from normal controls. We compared miR-92a expression in plasma with its expression in leukemia cells. Synthetic anti-miR-92a inhibitor was transfected into Raji and OM9;22 cells, and apoptosis was assessed. For in vivo assessment, 6-week-old female nude mice were injected with U937 cells, and miR-92a expression in plasma and tumors was measured. The level of miR-92a expression in fresh leukemia cells was highly variable compared with PBMNC, but significantly lower compared with CD34-positive cells obtained from healthy volunteers. We also noticed that miR-92a was preferentially expressed in acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) cells in comparison with acute myeloid leukemia (AML) cells. More specifically, cellular miR-92a expression was significantly increased in a subset of ALL cells, and ALL patients with overexpressed miR-92a had poor prognoses. The anti-miR-92a inhibitor-treated Raji and OM9;22 cells revealed an increase of apoptotic cells. Notably, the cell to plasma ratio of miR-92a expression was significantly higher in both AML and ALL cells compared with PBMNC from healthy volunteers. In tumor-bearing mice, the plasma miR-92a level was significantly decreased in accordance with tumor growth, while tumor tissue was strongly positive for miR-92a.


The miR-92a expression in leukemia cells could be a prognostic factor in ALL patients. The inverse correlation of miR-92a expression between cells and plasma and the cell to plasma ratio may be important to understanding the clinical and biological relevance of miR-92a in acute leukemia.

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