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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2013 Jun 11;110(24):9845-50. doi: 10.1073/pnas.1305472110. Epub 2013 May 22.

A microRNA signature defines chemoresistance in ovarian cancer through modulation of angiogenesis.

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Division of Pathology and Medical Oncology, Department of Clinical and Molecular Medicine, Faculty of Medicine and Psychology, University Sapienza, Santo Andrea Hospital, 00100 Rome, Italy.


Epithelial ovarian cancer is the most lethal gynecologic malignancy; it is highly aggressive and causes almost 125,000 deaths yearly. Despite advances in detection and cytotoxic therapies, a low percentage of patients with advanced stage disease survive 5 y after the initial diagnosis. The high mortality of this disease is mainly caused by resistance to the available therapies. Here, we profiled microRNA (miR) expression in serous epithelial ovarian carcinomas to assess the possibility of a miR signature associated with chemoresistance. We analyzed tumor samples from 198 patients (86 patients as a training set and 112 patients as a validation set) for human miRs. A signature of 23 miRs associated with chemoresistance was generated by array analysis in the training set. Quantitative RT-PCR in the validation set confirmed that three miRs (miR-484, -642, and -217) were able to predict chemoresistance of these tumors. Additional analysis of miR-484 revealed that the sensitive phenotype is caused by a modulation of tumor vasculature through the regulation of the VEGFB and VEGFR2 pathways. We present compelling evidence that three miRs can classify the response to chemotherapy of ovarian cancer patients in a large multicenter cohort and that one of these three miRs is involved in the control of tumor angiogenesis, indicating an option in the treatment of these patients. Our results suggest, in fact, that blockage of VEGF through the use of an anti-VEGFA antibody may not be sufficient to improve survival in ovarian cancer patients unless VEGFB signaling is also blocked.

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