Liver cancer can be recognized by fragments of RNA in saliva and blood


Doctors at RUDN University looked at markers of liver cancer and found that the disease can be recognized by fragments of RNA in saliva and blood. The results are published in Oncotarget.

Liver cancer is less common than other cancers, but it has lower survival rates. Sometimes it appears suddenly, but in most cases it is preceded by other liver disease. For example, cirrhosis of the liver due to hepatitis C. However, in this case, the development of liver cancer may occur imperceptibly. It is difficult to diagnose it at an early stage. That’s why it’s important to develop ways to detect liver cancer in people at risk before it’s too late.

Despite the relatively rare malignancy of cirrhosis of the liver, including those associated with the hepatitis C virus, and the coming era of direct antiviral drugs, there is a group of patients with cirrhosis who are at risk of developing cancer of the liver. liver. Of course, in these cases the cancer is not an unexpected disease, but it can be clinically invisible for a long time. Thus, methods of detecting molecular changes in the early stages are important. “

Alisa Petkevich, researcher in the Department of Hospital Therapy with a course in Endocrinology, Hematology and Clinical Laboratory Diagnostics from RUDN University

Doctors at RUDN University have discovered that microRNAs (small sequences of RNA that do not code for genes but are involved in the regulation of their expression) can be a marker for liver cancer. Doctors took blood and saliva samples from 29 cirrhosis patients, 24 liver cancer patients and 21 healthy volunteers and compared the level of expression of 10 different microRNAs in the samples.

Seven microRNAs found in blood plasma outside of exosomes (the vesicles secreted by cells) were associated with liver cancer. Three of them were also found in the saliva. This can be important for diagnosis, as saliva analysis is much simpler as collecting the sample does not need a professional, patients can do it themselves. MicroRNAs found inside exosomes may become an even more effective marker for liver cancer. For them, saliva is even preferable for blood analysis. Therefore, depending on the available biological material, it is possible to estimate the development of liver cancer by exosomal and non-exosomal microRNAs.

“The incidence rate, along with other factors, including the reluctance of at-risk patients to routinely visit the research center for blood draws, complicates the collection of samples to identify markers for early diagnosis. One possible solution could be the use of biomaterial. which does not require medical personnel for its collection, such as saliva. We have proven that saliva is a promising source of exosomal and non-exosomal microRNAs. Exosomal microRNAs have shown a strong association with primary liver cancer in saliva samples, ”said Alisa Petkevich, a researcher in the department of hospital therapy with a course in endocrinology, hematology and clinical laboratory diagnostics from the ‘RUDN University.


Russian Foundation for Basic Research

Journal reference:

Petkevich, AA, et al. (2021) Exosomal and non-exosomal miRNA expression levels in patients with HCV-related cirrhosis and liver cancer. Oncotarget.


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