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Contribution of microRNA analysis to characterisation of pancreatic lesions: a review
  1. Michela Visani1,
  2. Giorgia Acquaviva1,8,
  3. Sirio Fiorino2,
  4. Maria Letizia Bacchi Reggiani3,
  5. Michele Masetti4,
  6. Enrico Franceschi5,
  7. Adele Fornelli6,
  8. Elio Jovine4,
  9. Carlo Fabbri7,
  10. Alba A Brandes5,
  11. Giovanni Tallini8,
  12. Annalisa Pession1,
  13. Dario de Biase1,8
  1. 1Department of Pharmacy and Biotechnology, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
  2. 2Operative Unit of Medicine, Budrio Hospital, Budrio, Italy
  3. 3Department of Experimental, Diagnostic and Specialty Medicine, Cardiology Unit, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
  4. 4Surgery Unit, Maggiore Hospital, Bologna, Italy
  5. 5Medical Oncology Department, Bellaria Hospital, Azienda USL/ IRCCS Institute of Neurological Sciences, Bologna, Italy
  6. 6Anatomic Pathology Unit, Maggiore Hospital, Bologna, Italy
  7. 7Endoscopy Unit, Maggiore Hospital, Bologna, Italy
  8. 8Department of Experimental, Diagnostic and Specialty Medicine, School of Medicine, University of Bologna, Bologna, Italy
  1. Correspondence to Dr Dario de Biase, Department of Experimental, Diagnostic and Specialty Medicine—University of Bologna, Operative Unit Molecular Biology—Anatomic Pathology—Bellaria Hospital, Via Altura, 3, Bologna 40139, Italy; dario.debiase{at}


Pancreatic tumours are usually very aggressive cancer with a poor prognosis. A limitation of pancreatic imaging techniques is that lesions are often of ambiguous relevance. The inability to achieve a definitive diagnosis based on cytological evaluation of specimens, due to sampling error, paucicellular samples or coexisting inflammation, might lead to delay in clinical management. Given the morbidity associated with pancreatectomy, a proper selection of patients for surgery is fundamental. Many studies have been conducted in order to identify specific markers that could support the early diagnosis of pancreatic lesions, but, to date, none of them allow to diagnose pancreatic cancer with high sensitivity and specificity. MicroRNAs (miRNA) are small non-coding RNAs (19–25 nucleotides) that regulate gene expression interacting with mRNA targets. It is now established that each tissue shows a characteristic miRNA expression pattern that could be modified in association with a number of different diseases including neoplasia. Due to their key role in the regulation of gene expression, in the last years several studies have investigated miRNA tissue-specific expression, quantification and functional analysis to understand their peculiar involvement in cellular processes. The aim of this review is to focus on miRNA expression in pancreatic cancer and their putative role in early characterisation of pancreatic lesions.


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