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J Mol Diagn. 2012 Jul;14(4):385-92. doi: 10.1016/j.jmoldx.2012.02.003. Epub 2012 May 9.

The clinical utility of miR-21 as a diagnostic and prognostic marker for renal cell carcinoma.

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Department of Laboratory Medicine, and the Keenan Research Center in the Li Ka Shing Knowledge Institute, St. Michael's Hospital, Toronto, Ontario, Canada.


Renal cell carcinoma (RCC) is the most common neoplasm of the kidney. Increasing evidence suggests that microRNAs are dysregulated in RCC and are important factors in RCC pathogenesis. miR-21 is a known oncogene with tumor-promoting effects in many types of cancer. In this study, we analyzed miR-21 in 121 cases of healthy kidney and different RCC subtypes, including clear cell (ccRCC), papillary (pRCC), chromophobe (chRCC), and oncocytoma. Total RNA was extracted, and the expression of miR-21 was measured with real-time quantitative RT-PCR using miR-21-specific probes. The expression of miR-21 was significantly up-regulated in RCC compared with healthy kidney. There was a significant difference in the expression levels between RCC subtypes, with the highest levels of expression in ccRCC and pRCC subtypes. miR-21 expression distinguished ccRCC and pRCC from chRCC and oncocytoma with 90% specificity (95% CI, 63.9% to 98.1%) and 83% sensitivity (95% CI, 53.5% to 97.6%). Significantly higher miR-21 levels were associated with higher stage and grade. Patients who were miR-21 positive had statistically significant shorter disease-free and overall survival rates. Thus, miR-21 is up-regulated in RCC, and its expression levels can be used as a diagnostic marker to distinguish ccRCC and pRCC from chRCC and oncocytoma. Moreover, it has potential as a prognostic marker in RCC, although it is not independent of tumor stage and grade.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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