OBJECTIVES: Epstein-Barr virus (EBV)-related micoRNAs (miRNAs), BamHI-A rightward transcripts (BART)-miRNAs, are released in a stable form from viable cells, which are abundant in patients with EBV-positive nasopharyngeal carcinoma (NPC). We estimated copy numbers of circulating miR-BART2-5p, miR-BART17-5p, and miR-BART18-5p as well as BamHI-W DNA as biomarkers. MATERIALS AND METHODS: Serums from 31 EBV-positive (confirmed by in situ hybridization for EBV-encoded small RNAs) NPC patients and 40 non-NPC controls were analyzed. Among the 31 NPC patients, serums at the initial diagnosis and three months after treatment were obtained from 20 patients, and serums only at three months after treatment were obtained from 11 patients. RESULTS: The sensitivity/specificity of circulating BamHI-W DNA, miR-BART2-5p, miR-BART17-5p, and miR-BART18-5p for the diagnosis of NPC before treatment were 100 / 100, 85 / 85, 60 / 95, and 25 / 100%, respectively. For BamHI-W DNA, NPC patients with stage IV disease had significantly higher copy numbers than those with I-III. Copy numbers decreased significantly post-treatment. In contrast, copy numbers of the three BART-miRNAs showed no significant correlation with the clinical stage at diagnosis or any significant post-treatment change. After treatment, BamHI-W DNA and miR-BART17-5p were detected in 5 and 6 cases out of 11 patients with recurrent or residual tumors, respectively. However, BamHI-W DNA and miR-BART17-5p were absent in all 20 patients without relapse or residual tumors. CONCLUSION: The copy number of circulating BamHI-W DNA is a more useful biomarker for the initial diagnosis of NPC than the three BART-miRNAs examined. Post-treatment detection of miR-BART17-5p is a potential biomarker of a poor prognosis.
Hirai, N., Wakisaka, N., Kondo, S., Aga, M., Moriyama-Kita, M., Ueno, T., … Yoshizaki, T. (2016). Potential interest in circulating miR-BART17-5p as a post-treatment biomarker for prediction of recurrence in Epstein-Barr virus-related nasopharyngeal carcinoma. PLoS ONE, 11(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0163609