Plasma exosomal miR-21 and miR-181a differentiates follicular from papillary thyroid cancer

Roman Samsonov, Vladimir Burdakov, Tatiana Shtam, Zamira Radzhabovа, Dmitry Vasilyev, Evgenia Tsyrlina, Sergey Titov, Michail Ivanov, Lev Berstein, Michael Filatov, Nikolay Kolesnikov, Hava Gil-Henn, Anastasia Malek

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

81 Scopus citations


Thyroid cancer (TC) is the most common endocrine malignancy and its incidence has increased over the last few decades. As has been revealed by a number of studies, TC tissue’s micro-RNA (miRNA) profile may reflect histological features and the clinical behavior of tumor. However, alteration of the miRNA profile of plasma exosomes associated with TC development has to date not been explored. We isolated exosomes from plasma and assayed their characteristics using laser diffraction particle size analysis, atomic force microscopy, and western blotting. Next, we profiled cancer-associated miRNAs in plasma exosomes obtained from papillary TC patients, before and after surgical removal of the tumor. The diagnostic value of selected miRNAs was evaluated in a large cohort of patients displaying different statuses of thyroid nodule disease. MiRNA assessment was performed by RT-qPCR. In total, 60 patients with different types of thyroid nodal pathology were included in the study. Our results revealed that the development of papillary TC is associated with specific changes in exosomal miRNA profiles; this phenomenon can be used for differential diagnostics. MiRNA-31 was found to be over-represented in the plasma exosomes of patients with papillary TC vs. benign tumors, while miRNA-21 helped to distinguish between benign tumors and follicular TC. MiRNA-21 and MiRNA-181a-5p were found to be expressed reciprocally in the exosomes of patients with papillary and follicular TC, and their comparative assessment may help to distinguish between these types of TC with 100 % sensitivity and 77 % specificity.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)12011-12021
Number of pages11
JournalTumor Biology
Issue number9
StatePublished - 1 Sep 2016

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This study was supported by Oncosystem Ltd. for (to R.S. and A.M.) and by grants from the Helmsley Trust Fund (to H.G.H).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2016, International Society of Oncology and BioMarkers (ISOBM).


  • Diagnostics
  • Exosomes
  • MicroRNA
  • Thyroid cancer


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