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Res Rep Urol. 2019 Feb 27;11:29-42. doi: 10.2147/RRU.S165625. eCollection 2019.

Circulating blood miRNAs for prostate cancer risk stratification: miRroring the underlying tumor biology with liquid biopsies.

Hoey C1,2, Liu SK1,2,3.

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Biological Sciences, Sunnybrook Research Institute, Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, Toronto, ON M4N 3M5, Canada,
Department of Medical Biophysics, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5G 1L7, Canada,
Department of Radiation Oncology, University of Toronto, Toronto, ON M5S 3E2, Canada,


Current risk stratification methods for prostate cancer - although they have seen marked improvements over the past decades - are far from perfect. Despite the significant utility of prostate-specific antigen as a biomarker to monitor for disease recurrence, it cannot predict which tumors will recur or recommend the best treatment for patients. Similarly, although biopsies are imperative for diagnosis and staging, they are saddled with limitations and risks. We must move toward a noninvasive biomarker that has predictive and prognostic efficacy. We therefore review the current literature on circulating miRNA biomarkers, apply their use to two significant clinical problems (ie, how limitations of prostate biopsies can impact diagnosis and treatment management, and the need to tailor treatment for a clinically heterogeneous disease), and evaluate how circulating miRNAs have inherent properties that make them ideal liquid biomarkers. We also outline current gaps in knowledge that must be addressed before they can be implemented into routine clinical practice. With further research on their function and validation of their biomarker utility in large prospective cohorts, circulating miRNAs will likely prove to be the liquid biopsies of tomorrow.


biomarker; miRNA; plasma; prostate cancer; risk stratification; serum

Conflict of interest statement

Disclosure The authors report no conflicts of interest in this work.

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