Discovery and validation of circulating biomarkers of colorectal adenoma by high-depth small RNA sequencing

Academic Article


  • Purpose: Colorectal cancer is the third most common cancer worldwide, causing approximately 700,000 deaths each year. The majority of colorectal cancers begin as adenomas. Definitive screening for colorectal adenomas is currently accomplished through colonoscopy but, owing largely to costs and invasiveness, is typically limited to patient groups at higher risk by virtue of age or family history. We sought to determine if blood-based small RNA markers could detect colorectal adenoma. Experimental Design: We applied high-depth small RNA sequencing to plasma from a large (n ¼ 189) cohort of patients, balanced for age, sex, and ancestry. Our analytical methodology allowed for the detection of both microRNAs and other small RNA species. We replicated sequencing results by qPCR on plasma samples from an independent cohort (n ¼ 140). Results: We found several small RNA species with significant associations to colorectal adenoma, including both microRNAs and non-microRNA small RNAs. These associations were robust to correction for patient covariates, including age. Among the adenoma-associated small RNAs, two, a miR-335-5p isoform and an un-annotated small RNA, were validated by qPCR in an independent cohort. A classifier trained on measures of these two RNAs in the discovery cohort yields an AUC of 0.755 (0.775 with age) for adenoma detection in the independent cohort. This classifier accurately detects adenomas in patients under 50 and is robust to sex or ancestry. Conclusions: Circulating small RNAs (including but not limited to miRNAs) discovered by sequencing and validated by qPCR identify patients with colorectal adenomas effectively.
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    Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Author List

  • Roberts BS; Hardigan AA; Moore DE; Ramaker RC; Jones AL; Fitz-Gerald MB; Cooper GM; Wilcox CM; Kimberly RP; Myers RM
  • Start Page

  • 2092
  • End Page

  • 2099
  • Volume

  • 24
  • Issue

  • 9