Role of microRNAs in cancers of the female reproductive tract: insights from recent clinical and experimental discovery studies

Monica Logan, Shannon M. Hawkins

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

microRNAs (miRNAs) are small RNA molecules that represent the top of the pyramid of many tumorigenesis cascade pathways as they have the ability to affect multiple, intricate, and still undiscovered downstream targets. Understanding how miRNA molecules serve as master regulators in these important networks involved in cancer initiation and progression open up significant innovative areas for therapy and diagnosis that have been sadly lacking for deadly female reproductive tract cancers. This review will highlight the recent advances in the field of miRNAs in epithelial ovarian cancer, endometrioid endometrial cancer and squamous-cell cervical carcinoma focusing on studies associated with actual clinical information in humans. Importantly, recent miRNA profiling studies have included well-characterized clinical specimens of female reproductive tract cancers, allowing for studies correlating miRNA expression with clinical outcomes. This review will summarize the current thoughts on the role of miRNA processing in unique miRNA species present in these cancers. In addition, this review will focus on current data regarding miRNA molecules as unique biomarkers associated with clinically significant outcomes such as overall survival and chemotherapy resistance. We will also discuss why specific miRNA molecules are not recapitulated across multiple studies of the same cancer type. Although the mechanistic contributions of miRNA molecules to these clinical phenomena have been confirmed using in vitro and pre-clinical mouse model systems, these studies are truly only the beginning of our understanding of the roles miRNAs play in cancers of the female reproductive tract. This review will also highlight useful areas for future research regarding miRNAs as therapeutic targets in cancers of the female reproductive tract.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)153-180
Number of pages28
JournalClinical science (London, England : 1979)
Volume128
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Feb 1 2015
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)

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