Liver cancer is easily diagnosed by RNA fragments in blood and saliva.

RUDN University doctors looked at markers of liver cancer and found that the disease can be recognized by RNA fragments in saliva and blood. Oncotarget publishes the results.

Liver cancer is less prevalent than other cancers, however it has lower survival rates. It can develop suddenly, but it is typically preceded by other liver illnesses. Hepatitis C can cause liver cirrhosis that can lead to cancer of the liver. It’s difficult to recognize it in its early stages. That’s why it is important to discover ways to detect liver cancer in people at risk before it’s too late.

Despite the relatively rare malignancy in the liver cirrhosis and the ones that are caused by the hepatitis C virus, and the coming age of direct antiviral medications there is a pool of patients with cirrhosis who are at risk of developing liver cancer. Although cancer is not an uncommon condition in these instances it is difficult to detect over an extended period of time. So, methods for detecting molecular changes early stages are crucial.”

Alisa Petkevich, researcher at the Department of Hospital Therapy with an interest in endocrinology, hematology , and clinical laboratory diagnostics at RUDN University

RUDN University doctors have found that microRNA (small sequences of RNA which do not encode genes but are involved in the regulation of their expression) can be a marker of cancer in the liver. Doctors collected blood and saliva samples from 29 patients suffering from cirrhosis as well as 24 patients with liver cancer. They also compared the levels of expression of 10 microRNAs found in the samples.

Seven microRNAs, which weren’t found in blood plasma but were found outside of the exosomes (the secretion vesicles by cells) and were associated with liver cancer. Three of them were also detected in saliva. This can be important for diagnosis, since saliva analysis is much simpler because the collection of the sample doesn’t require a specialist, patients can collect it themselves. Exosomes may be a more reliable indicator of cancer in the liver than the microRNAs that are found in them. For these reasons saliva is also more suitable for analysis than blood. It is possible to determine the incidence of the development of cancer in the liver by exosomal or non-exosomal microRNAs depending on the biological material available.

“The rate of incidence, along with other factors, like the inability of patients at risk to regularly visit the research center to collect blood samples, complicates the collection of samples to determine the early signs of diagnosis. One possible solution is to utilize biomaterial that doesn’t require medical personnel to collect it, such as saliva. We have demonstrated that saliva is a viable source of both exosomal as well as non-exosomal miRNAs. Exosomal microRNAs were discovered to be strongly associated with primary liver cancer in saliva samples,” Alisa Petkevich (researcher at the Department of Hospital Therapy) said. She is also a student at RUDN University’s program in endocrinology and clinical laboratory diagnostics.

Journal reference:

Petkevich, A.A., et al. (2021) Exosomal and non-exosomal levels of miRNA expression in patients suffering from HCV-related cirrhosis and liver cancer. Oncotarget.

Content Source:

Gemma Wilson

Gemma is a journalism graduate with keen interest in covering business news – specifically startups. She has as a keen eye for technologies and has predicted quite a few successful startups over the last couple of years.

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