Ann Surg Treat Res.  2021 Sep;101(3):140-150. 10.4174/astr.2021.101.3.140.

Circulating microRNAs as biomarkers in bile-derived exosomes of cholangiocarcinoma

  • 1Division of Hepatobiliary and Pancreatic Surgery, Department of Surgery, Keimyung University Dongsan Medical Center, Daegu, Korea
  • 2Department of Microbiology, Keimyung University School of Medicine, Daegu, Korea


In this pilot study, using next-generation sequencing and integrated messenger RNA (mRNA) sequencing, we investigated circulating microRNA (miRNA) expression profiling from bile-derived exosomes to identify dysregulated miRNA signatures and oncogenic pathways and determine their effects on targeted mRNAs in cholangiocarcinoma (CCA). Moreover, we explored the possibility that genetic analysis using bile-derived exosomes may replace gene analysis using tissue.
Bile was collected from a patient with perihilar CCA before curative resection. As a control, bile was collected from a patient with a common bile duct stone. Exosomes were isolated from the bile, and we performed next-generation miRNA sequencing using isolated exosomes. To evaluate miRNA-mRNA interactions, mRNA sequencing was performed using bile fluid in both patients.
We identified 22 differentially expressed miRNAs. More than 65% of the predicted mRNA targets of those miRNAs were actually differentially expressed between control and CCA bile samples. In functional pathway analysis, targets of 22 miRNAs were primarily enriched in mitogen-activated protein kinase, platelet derived growth factor, vascular endothelial growth factor, epidermal growth factor receptor, and p53 signaling. In particular, in the functional assessment of miRNAmRNA interactions, RAS pathways, including downstream pathways (PI3K-AKT-mTOR and RAS-RAF-MEK-ERK), were determined to be enriched.
Circulating miRNAs in bile-derived exosomes provide new information for the development of miRNA analysis in CCA. These miRNAs may represent the oncogenic characteristics of CCA tissue, enabling them to be used instead of tissue samples for the diagnosis of CCA. Further research investigating circulating miRNAs in bile exosomes may lead to more rational, targeted approaches to treatment.


Bile; Exosomes; MicroRNAs; Tumor microenvironment
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