Background and aims: MicroRNAs (miRNAs) are profoundly involved into the pathophysiology of manifold cancers. Recent data suggested a pivotal role of miRNAs as biomarkers in different biological processes including carcinogenesis. However, their role in neuroendocrine tumors (NETs) is only poorly understood.
Methods: We determined circulating levels of miR-21 and miR-223 in 45 samples from patients with NET treated between 2010 and 2019 at our department and compared them to healthy controls. Results were correlated with clinical records.
Results: In the total cohort of Patients with NET, miR-223 presented significantly lower levels compared to healthy control samples. In contrast, levels of miR-21 indicated no significant changes between the two groups. Interestingly, despite being significantly downregulated in all NET patients, concentrations of miR-223 were independent of clinical or histopathological factors such as proliferation activity according to Ki-67 index, tumor grading, TNM stage, somatostatin receptor expression, presence of functional/ non-functional disease or tumor relapse. Moreover, in contrast to data from recent publications analyzing other tumor entities, levels of miR-223 serum levels did not reflect prognosis of patients with NET. Conclusion Lower concentrations of circulating miR-223 rather reflect the presence of NET itself than certain tumor characteristics. The value of miR-223 as a biomarker in NET might be limited to diagnostic, but not prognostic purposes.