Potential Role of Circulating MiR-21 in the Diagnosis and Prognosis of Digestive System Cancer: A Systematic Review and Meta-Analysis

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Recent evidences indicate that circulating microRNAs (miRNAs) exhibit aberrant expression in the plasma of patients suffering from cancer compared to normal individuals, suggesting that it may be a useful noninvasion diagnostic method. MiR-21 plays crucial roles in carcinogenesis and can be served as a biomarker for the detection of various cancers. Therefore, the aim of this meta-analysis is to assess the potential role of miR-21 for digestive system cancer.

By searching the PubMed, Embase, and Web of Science for publications concerning the diagnostic value of miR-21 for digestive system cancer, total of 23 publications were included in this meta-analysis. Receiver operating characteristic curves (ROC) were used to check the overall test performance. For prognostic meta-analysis, pooled hazard ratios (HRs) of circulating miR-21 for survival were calculated.

Totally 23 eligible publications were included in this meta-analysis (15 articles for diagnosis and 8 articles for prognosis). For diagnostic meta-analysis, the summary estimates revealed that the pooled sensitivity and specificity were 0.76(95% CI = 0.70–0.82) and 0.84 (95% CI = 0.78–0.89). Besides, the area under the summary ROC curve (AUC) is 0.87. For prognostic meta-analysis, the pooled HR of higher miR-21 expression in circulation was 1.94 (95% CI = 0.99–3.82, P  = 0.055), which indicated higher miR-21 expression could be likely to predict poorer survival in digestive system cancer. The subgroup analysis implied the higher expression of miR-21 was correlated with worse overall survival in the Asian population in digestive system cancer (HR = 2.41, 95% CI = 1.21–4.77, P  = 0.012).

The current evidence suggests circulating miR-21 may be suitable to be a diagnostic and prognostic biomarker for digestive system cancer in the Asians.

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