Review Article

MicroRNAs as biomarkers for human glioblastoma: progress and potential

Shi-wei HUANG1,2, Ni-da ALI1, Lily ZHONG1, Jian SHI1
1 Department of Neurology, Department of Veterans Affairs Medical Center, San Francisco and University of California, San Francisco, CA 94121, USA
2 Drexel University College of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA 19120, USA
Correspondence to: Shi-wei HUANG:, Jian SHI:,
DOI: 10.1038/aps.2017.173
Received: 8 July 2017
Accepted: 24 November 2017
Advance online: 25 January 2018


Glioblastoma multiforme (GBM) is the most common malignant glioma. Despite innovative research efforts in tumor therapy, the outcome for most diagnosed patients remains poor; therefore, early diagnosis of GBM is the most effective method for achieving better patient outcomes. In recent years, combined research efforts including cellular, molecular, genetic, and bioinformatics methods have been used to investigate GBM, and the results show that variations in miRNA expression occur in GBM tissues and biological fluids. Some highly stable miRNAs circulate in the blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of both healthy individuals and diagnosed patients, thus raising the possibility that miRNAs may serve as novel diagnostic markers. In addition, increased understanding of the miRNA and mRNA interactions involved in GBM progression may lead to discovering predictive biomarkers, some of which are clinically relevant for targeted therapy and predicting prognosis. However, as this field is relatively new, some studies have yielded conflicting results. To progress in the field, different advanced techniques must be combined, including bioinformatics methods and molecular and cellular techniques. In addition, we must overcome the various challenges in non-invasive GBM biomarker detection. Here, we discuss the progress and potential of miRNAs as biomarkers for GBM and related signaling pathways. Studying the clinical relevance and applicability of these biomarkers may alter GBM patient diagnosis and treatment.
Keywords: glioblastoma; miRNA; biomarker; diagnosis; bioinformatics; non-invasive detection

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