Discovery and replication of microRNAs for breast cancer risk using genome-wide profiling

Cenny Taslim, Daniel Y. Weng, Theodore M. Brasky, Ramona G. Dumitrescu, Kun Huang, Bhaskar V.S. Kallakury, Shiva Krishnan, Adana A. Llanos, Catalin Marian, Joseph McElroy, Sallie S. Schneider, Scott L. Spear, Melissa A. Troester, Jo L. Freudenheim, Susan Geyer, Peter G. Shields

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

12 Scopus citations


Background: Genome-wide miRNA expression may be useful for predicting breast cancer risk and/or for the early detection of breast cancer. Results: A 41-miRNA model distinguished breast cancer risk in the discovery study (accuracy of 83.3%), which was replicated in the independent study (accuracy = 63.4%, P=0.09). Among the 41 miRNA, 20 miRNAs were detectable in serum, and predicted breast cancer occurrence within 18 months of blood draw (accuracy 53%, P=0.06). These risk-related miRNAs were enriched for HER-2 and estrogen-dependent breast cancer signaling. Materials and Methods: MiRNAs were assessed in two cross-sectional studies of women without breast cancer and a nested case-control study of breast cancer. Using breast tissues, a multivariate analysis was used to model women with high and low breast cancer risk (based upon Gail risk model) in a discovery study of women without breast cancer (n=90), and applied to an independent replication study (n=71). The model was then assessed using serum samples from the nested case-control study (n=410). Conclusions: Studying breast tissues of women without breast cancer revealed miRNAs correlated with breast cancer risk, which were then found to be altered in the serum of women who later developed breast cancer. These results serve as proof-of-principle that miRNAs in women without breast cancer may be useful for predicting breast cancer risk and/or as an adjunct for breast cancer early detection. The miRNAs identified herein may be involved in breast carcinogenic pathways because they were first identified in the breast tissues of healthy women.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)86457-86468
Number of pages12
Issue number52
StatePublished - 2016


  • Breast cancer risk prediction
  • Epigenetics
  • Healthy women
  • MicroRNA
  • Tissue-based biomarkers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology


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