Introduction: Colorectal cancer (CRC) is the second leading cause of cancer-related deaths, but currently available noninvasive screening programs have achieved only a modest decrease in mortality. MicroRNAs (miRNA) play an important role in a wide array of biological processes and are commonly dysregulated in neoplasia. We aimed to evaluate the feasibility of fecal miRNAs as biomarkers for colorectal neoplasia screening. Materials and Methods: Total RNA was extracted from freshly collected stool samples from 8 healthy volunteers and 29 samples collected via fecal occult blood testing from subjects with normal colonoscopies, colon adenomas, and CRCs. miRNA expression analyses were done with TaqMan quantitative reverse transcription-PCR for a subset of miRNAs. Illumina miRNA microarray profiling was done to evaluate the differences in expression patterns between normal colonic mucosa tissues and stool samples from healthy subjects. Results: We efficiently extracted miRNAs from stool specimens using our developed protocol. Data from independent experiments showed high reproducibility for miRNA extraction and expression. miRNA expression patterns were similar in stool specimens among healthy volunteers, and reproducible in stool samples that were collected serially in time from the same individuals. miRNA expression profiles from 29 patients showed higher expression of miR-21 and miR-106a in patients with adenomas and CRCs compared with individuals free of colorectal neoplasia. Conclusion: Our data indicate that miRNAs could be extracted from stool easily and reproducibly. The stools of patients with colorectal neoplasms have unique and identifiable patterns of miRNA expression. Impact: Fecal miRNAs may be an excellent candidate for the development of a noninvasive screening test for colorectal neoplasms.
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