Significance of microRNA-related variants in susceptibility to recurrence of oropharyngeal cancer patients after definitive radiotherapy.

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Common single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in miRNAs may affect miRNA functions and their target expression and thus may affect biological activities and cancer etiology as well as prognosis. Thus, we determined whether the 9 SNPs in microRNAs modify the risk of recurrence of squamous cell carcinoma of the oropharynx (SCCOP) in a cohort of 1008 patients. The log-rank test and multivariate Cox models were used to evaluate the associations. We found that the SNPs in the miRNA146, miRNA196, and Gemin3 were associated with a significantly reduced and increased risk of SCCOP recurrence after multivariate adjustment (aHR, 0.6, 95%CI, 0.4-0.9, aHR, 2.1, 95%CI, 1.6-2.8, and aHR, 0.6, 95%CI, 0.5-0.9, respectively). Furthermore, the similar effect of these 3 SNPs on SCCOP recurrence risk was found in HPV-positive SCCOP patients only. However, no significant associations were found for other SNPs. To evaluate the aggregate effects of these SNPs, we performed a combined risk genotype analysis. We found that, compared with the low-risk reference group with less than 4 risk genotypes, the medium-risk group with 4 or 5 risk genotypes exhibited a 1.7-fold (1.2-2.4) increased risk whereas the high-risk group with more than 5 risk genotypes exhibited a 3.0-fold (1.7-4.2) increased risk (Ptrend < 0.001). Such combined effects were particularly pronounced in HPV-positive SCCOP patients. Taken together, this is the first study with a large cohort of SCCOP patients showing that miRNA-related genetic variants may modify risk of SCCOP recurrence individually and jointly. Larger studies are needed to validate these results.





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Chen, Xingming, Erich M Sturgis, Chengyuan Wang, Xiaoli Cao, Yuncheng Li, Qingyi Wei and Guojun Li (2016). Significance of microRNA-related variants in susceptibility to recurrence of oropharyngeal cancer patients after definitive radiotherapy. Oncotarget, 7(23). pp. 35015–35025. 10.18632/oncotarget.9014 Retrieved from

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Qingyi Wei

Professor in Population Health Sciences

Qingyi Wei, MD, PhD, Professor in the Department of Medicine, is Associate Director for Cancer Control and Population Sciences, Co-leader of CCPS and Co-leader of Epidemiology and Population Genomics (Focus Area 1). He is a professor of Medicine and an internationally recognized epidemiologist focused on the molecular and genetic epidemiology of head and neck cancers, lung cancer, and melanoma. His research focuses on biomarkers and genetic determinants for the DNA repair deficient phenotype and variations in cell death. He is Editor-in-Chief of the open access journal "Cancer Medicine" and Associate Editor-in-Chief of the International Journal of Molecular Epidemiology and Genetics.

Area of Expertise: Epidemiology

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