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This article is part of the supplement: Abstracts of the 16th International Charles Heidelberger Symposium on Cancer Research

Open Access Poster presentation

MicroRNA-21 in lung cancer: overexpression in metastasis of pulmonary adenocarcinomas and squamous cell carcinomas

Maria R Silva12*, Paulo Santos245, Isabel Velada4, Catarina Gomes1, M João d’Aguiar1, Lia Teixeira1, João Dinis1, Susana Carmona4, Luisa Cortes5 and Lina Carvalho1235

Author Affiliations

1 Instituto de Anatomia Patológica, Faculdade de Medicina da Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal

2 Centro de Investigação em Meio Ambiente, Genética e Oncobiologia (CIMAGO), Coimbra, Portugal

3 Serviço de Anatomia Patológica dos Hospitais da Universidade de Coimbra, Coimbra, Portugal

4 Laboratory of Funcional Genomics, Centro de Histocompatibilidade do Centro, Coimbra, Portugal

5 Centro de Neurociências e Biologia Celular, Coimbra, Portugal

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BMC Proceedings 2010, 4(Suppl 2):P14  doi:10.1186/1753-6561-4-S2-P14

The electronic version of this article is the complete one and can be found online at:

Published:24 September 2010

© 2010 Silva et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.

Poster presentation

MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are a class of naturally occurring small non-coding RNAs that target protein-coding mRNAs at the post-transcriptional level. Expression profiling has identified miRNA signatures in cancers that associate with diagnosis, staging, progression, prognosis, and response to treatment. MiRNAs are ideal biomarkers in FFPE-tissue because, unlike mRNA, miRNA integrity is affected very little by formalin fixation. Previous studies have shown that miR-21 overexpression correlated with poor prognosis in NSCLC patients.

In this study we investigated the expression of mir-21 in primary carcinoma and metastasis and near non-tumor parenchyma.

FFPE samples from surgical specimens and biopsies of 7 pulmonary adenocarcinomas and 5 squamous cell carcinomas and respective metastasis together with normal lung tissue from the same case; these areas were separated by laser-capture microdissection prior to miRNA analysis.

The expression level of miR-21 by qRT-PCR was significantly higher in tumor tissues than in adjacent normal tissues (p = 0.005). The overexpression in the metastasis samples compared to adjacent normal tissue was almost satistically significant (p = 0.051).

MiR-21 was overexpressed in tumor tissues relative to adjacent non-tumor tissues. We found an increase in miR-21 expression in primary carcinoma and metastasis in pulmonary adenocarcinomas when compared with miR-21 lower expression in squamous cell carcinoma. Despite the small sample studied, further investigation may indicate therapeutic and prognostic relevance of this determination, previous studies suggest that miR-21 and has a role in tumor growth, invasion and metastasis by targeting multiple suppressor genes [1]. Therefore, suppression of miR-21 may provide a novel approach for the treatment of advanced cancers through regulation of tumour suppressor genes.


  1. Zhu S, Wu H, Wu F, Nie D, Sheng S, Mo YY: MicroRNA-21 targets tumor suppressor genes in invasion and metastasis.

    Cell Res 2008, 18:350-359. PubMed Abstract | Publisher Full Text OpenURL