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The role of miRNA-21 and epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) process in colorectal cancer
  1. Anelisa Jaca,
  2. Padmini Govender,
  3. Michael Locketz,
  4. Richard Naidoo
  1. Division of Anatomical Pathology, National Health Laboratory Service, University of Cape Town, Groote Schuur Hospital, Cape Town, Western Cape, South Africa
  1. Correspondence to Professor Richard Naidoo, Department of Pathology, Division of Anatomical Pathology, Faculty of Health Sciences, University of Cape Town, Anzio Road, Observatory, Cape Town 7925, South Africa; Richard.Naidoo{at}


Aims The study was conducted to assess the expression levels of epithelial mesenchymal transition (EMT) proteins (E-cadherin, N-cadherin, snail-1 and vimentin) and miRNA-21. In addition, we correlated these data with clinicopathological features in Colorectal cancer.

Methods H&E slides from a total of 59 formalin fixed paraffin embedded tissue blocks were examined by a pathologist to demarcate normal and tumour regions. Immunohistochemical analysis of mismatch repair proteins (MLH1, MSH2 and MSH6) and EMT markers (E-cadherin, N-cadherin, snail-1 and vimentin) was performed. The miRNA-21 expression levels were determined using qRT-PCR and the data was analysed using the relative quantification method. The Fisher's exact and Pearson's χ2 tests were used to correlate snail-1, E-cadherin, miRNA-21 and clinicopathological data.

Results Our results showed a statistically significant correlation between high miRNA-21 expression levels and E-cadherin positive cases. There was also an association between high miRNA-21 expression levels and negative snail-1 expression. No significant correlation was seen between miRNA-21 expression levels and clinicopathological features. Moreover, high expression levels of miRNA-21 were significantly associated with the sporadic cases.

Conclusions Our data suggest that miRNA-21 in association with E-cadherin and snail-1 does not play a significant role in the development and progression of this disease.


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