Exp Mol Med.  2015 Sep;47(9):e184. 10.1038/emm.2015.68.

Serum exosomal microRNAs as novel biomarkers for hepatocellular carcinoma

  • 1Department of Medicine, Samsung Medical Center, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Seoul, Korea. yh.paik@skku.edu
  • 2Department of Medicine, Samsung Changwon Hospital, Sungkyunkwan University School of Medicine, Changwon, Korea.
  • 3Department of Health Science and Technology, Samsung Advanced Institute for Health Science and Technology, Sungkyunkwan University, Seoul, Korea.


Recent studies have shown that circulating microRNAs are a potential biomarker in various types of malignancies. The aim of this study was to investigate the feasibility of using serum exosomal microRNAs as novel serological biomarkers for hepatocellular carcinoma (HCC) in patients with chronic hepatitis B (CHB). We measured the serum exosomal microRNAs and serum circulating microRNAs in patients with CHB (n=20), liver cirrhosis (LC) (n=20) and HCC (n=20). Serum exosomal microRNA was extracted from 500 mul of serum using an Exosome RNA Isolation kit. The expression levels of microRNAs were quantified by real-time PCR. The expression levels of selected microRNAs were normalized to Caenorhabditis elegans microRNA (Cel-miR-39). The serum levels of exosomal miR-18a, miR-221, miR-222 and miR-224 were significantly higher in patients with HCC than those with CHB or LC (P<0.05). Further, the serum levels of exosomal miR-101, miR-106b, miR-122 and miR-195 were lower in patients with HCC than in patients with CHB (P=0.014, P<0.001, P<0.001 and P<0.001, respectively). There was no significant difference in the levels of miR-21 and miR-93 among the three groups. Additionally, the serum levels of circulating microRNAs showed a smaller difference between HCC and either CHB or LC. This study suggests that serum exosomal microRNAs may be used as novel serological biomarkers for HCC.

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