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Annals of Surgical Oncology

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4-miRNA Score Predicts the Individual Metastatic Risk of Renal Cell Carcinoma Patients

Joana Heinzelmann PhD, Madeleine Arndt, Ramona Pleyers MD, Tobias Fehlmann, Sebastian Hoelters PhD, Philip Zeuschner MD, Alexander Vogt, Alexey Pryalukhin MD, Elke Schaeffeler PhD, Rainer M. Bohle MD, PhD, Mieczyslaw Gajda MD, Martin Janssen MD, Michael Stoeckle MD, PhD, Kerstin Junker MD, PhD
Urologic Oncology
Volume 26, Issue 11 / October , 2019



In order to improve individual prognostication as well as stratification for adjuvant therapy in patients with clinically localized clear cell renal cell carcinoma (ccRCC), reliable prognostic biomarkers are urgently needed. In this study, microRNAs (miRNAs) have emerged as promising candidates. We investigated whether a combination of differently expressed miRNAs in primary tumors can predict the individual metastatic risk.


Using two prospectively collected biobanks of academic centers, 108 ccRCCs were selected, including 57 from patients with metastatic disease at diagnosis or during follow-up and 51 without evidence of metastases. Fourteen previously identified candidate miRNAs were tested in 20 representative formalin-fixed and paraffin embedded samples in order to select the best discriminators between metastatic and nonmetastatic ccRCC. These miRNAs were approved in 108 tumor samples. We evaluated the association of altered miRNA expression with the metastatic potential of tumors using quantitative polymerase chain reaction. A prognostic 4-miRNA model has been established using a random forest classifier. Cox regression analyses were performed for correlation of the miRNA model and clinicopathological parameters to metastasis-free and overall survival.


Nine miRNAs indicated significant expression alterations in the small cohort. These miRNAs were validated in the whole cohort. The established 4-miRNA score (miR-30a-3p/-30c-5p/-139-5p/-144-5p) has been identified as a superior predictor for metastasis-free survival (hazard ratio 12.402; p = 7.0E−05) and overall survival (p = 1.1E−04) compared with clinicopathological parameters, and likewise in the Leibovich score subgroups.


We identified a 4-miRNA model that was found to be superior to clinicopathological parameters in accurately predicting individual metastatic risk and can support patient selection for risk-stratified follow-up and adjuvant therapy studies.

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