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Open Access Highly Accessed Review

Current status and implications of microRNAs in ovarian cancer diagnosis and therapy

Mohd Saif Zaman1, Diane M Maher1, Sheema Khan1, Meena Jaggi123 and Subhash C Chauhan123*

Author Affiliations

1 Cancer Biology Research Center, Sanford Research/USD, 2301 East 60th Street North, Sioux Falls, SD 57104, USA

2 Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology, Sanford School of Medicine, The University of South Dakota, 2301 East 60th Street North, Sioux Falls, SD 57105, USA

3 Basic Biomedical Science Division, Sanford School of Medicine, The University of South Dakota, 2301 East 60th Street North, Sioux Falls, SD 57105, USA

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Journal of Ovarian Research 2012, 5:44  doi:10.1186/1757-2215-5-44

Published: 13 December 2012


Ovarian cancer is the fifth most common cancer among women and causes more deaths than any other type of female reproductive cancer. Currently, treatment of ovarian cancer is based on the combination of surgery and chemotherapy. While recurrent ovarian cancer responds to additional chemotherapy treatments, the progression-free interval becomes shorter after each cycle, as chemo-resistance increases until the disease becomes incurable. There is, therefore, a strong need for prognostic and predictive markers to help optimize and personalize treatment in order to improve the outcome of ovarian cancer. An increasing number of studies indicate an essential role for microRNAs in ovarian cancer progression and chemo-resistance. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are small endogenous non-coding RNAs (~22bp) which are frequently dysregulated in cancer. Typically, miRNAs are involved in crucial biological processes, including development, differentiation, apoptosis and proliferation. Two families of miRNAs, miR-200 and let-7, are frequently dysregulated in ovarian cancer and have been associated with poor prognosis. Both have been implicated in the regulation of epithelial-to-mesenchymal transition, a cellular transition associated with tumor aggressiveness, tumor invasion and chemo-resistance. Moreover, miRNAs also have possible implications for improving cancer diagnosis; for example miR-200 family, let-7 family, miR-21 and miR-214 may be useful in diagnostic tests to help detect ovarian cancer at an early stage. Additionally, the use of multiple target O-modified antagomirs (MTG-AMO) to inhibit oncogenic miRNAs and miRNA replacement therapy for tumor suppressor miRNAs are essential tools for miRNA based cancer therapeutics. In this review we describe the current status of the role miRNAs play in ovarian cancer and focus on the possibilities of microRNA-based therapies and the use of microRNAs as diagnostic tools.

Ovarian cancer; miRNAs; Chemoresistance; Diagnosis; Prognosis; Therapy; miR-200; Let-7