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Radiat Oncol. 2012 Nov 20;7:195. doi: 10.1186/1748-717X-7-195.

MicroRNA expression profile associated with response to neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy in locally advanced rectal cancer patients.

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Department of Comprehensive Cancer Care, Masaryk Memorial Cancer Institute, Zluty kopec 7, Brno, 656 53, Czech Republic.



Rectal cancer accounts for approximately one third of all colorectal cancers (CRC), which belong among leading causes of cancer deaths worldwide. Standard treatment for locally advanced rectal cancer (cT3/4 and/or cN+) includes neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy with fluoropyrimidines (capecitabine or 5-fluorouracil) followed by radical surgical resection. Unfortunately, a significant proportion of tumors do not respond enough to the neoadjuvant treatment and these patients are at risk of relapse. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small non-coding RNAs playing significant roles in the pathogenesis of many cancers including rectal cancer. MiRNAs could present the new predictive biomarkers for rectal cancer patients.


We selected 20 patients who underwent neoadjuvant chemoradiotherapy for advanced rectal cancer and whose tumors were classified as most sensitive or resistant to the treatment. These two groups were compared using large-scale miRNA expression profiling.


Expression levels of 8 miRNAs significantly differed between two groups. MiR-215, miR-190b and miR-29b-2* have been overexpressed in non-responders, and let-7e, miR-196b, miR-450a, miR-450b-5p and miR-99a* have shown higher expression levels in responders. Using these miRNAs 9 of 10 responders and 9 of 10 non-responders (p < 0.05) have been correctly classified.


Our pilot study suggests that miRNAs are part of the mechanisms that are involved in response of rectal cancer to the chemoradiotherapy and that miRNAs may be promising predictive biomarkers for such patients. In most miRNAs we identified (miR-215, miR-99a*, miR-196b, miR-450b-5p and let-7e), the connection between their expression and radioresistance or chemoresistance to inhibitors of thymidylate synthetase was already established.

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