Aim: Recent studies have underlined causative links between microRNA (miRNA) deregulation and cancer development. However, the relevance of abnormally expressed miRNA to tumor biology has not been well understood in hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC).
Methods: A bead-based miRNA expression profiling method was performed on 20 pairs of surgically removed HCC and adjacent non-tumorous tissue (NT). Special miR-338 downregulations and miR-338 associated with clinical characteristics was validated in an extended samples set of 36 paired HCC and adjacent non-tumorous liver tissues by real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR) analysis.
Results: Out of our bead-based microarray data, 12 upregulated and 19 downregulated miRNA were found to be associated with HCC. Further characterization of miRNA-338, in which 20 pairs of the samples were clustered clearly into two groups according to expression of miR-338, revealed that the level of miR-338 expression can be associated with clinical aggressiveness, such as, tumor size, tumor–node–metastasis stage, vascular invasion and intrahepatic metastasis. These results were validated by real-time RT-PCR analysis.
Conclusion: Our study suggests that miRNA expression could have relevance to the clinical behavior of HCC and that the bead-based miRNA expression profiling method might be a suitable system to assay miRNA expression in large-scale diagnostic trails.