MicroRNA-20a in human faeces as a non-invasive biomarker for colorectal cancer

Tung On Yau, Chung Wah Wu, Ceen-Ming Tang, Yingxuan Chen, Jingyuan Fang, Yujuan Dong, Qiaoyi Liang, Simon Siu Man Ng, Francis Ka Leung Chan, Joseph Jao Yiu Sung, Jun Yu

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

55 Citations (Scopus)


OBJECTIVE: Detection of microRNA (miRNA) aberrations in human faeces is a new approach for colorectal cancer (CRC) screening. The aim of this study was to characterise miR-20a in faeces as a non-invasive biomarker for diagnosis of CRC.

RESULTS: miR-20a expression was significantly higher in the 40 CRC tumours compared to their respective adjacent normal tissues (P = 0.0065). Levels of miR-20a were also significantly higher in faecal samples from CRC patients (P < 0.0001). The area under receiver operating characteristic (AUROC) curve for miR-20a was 0.73, with a sensitivity of 55% and specificity of 82% for CRC patients compared with controls. No significant difference in the level of miR-20a was found between patients with proximal, distal, and rectal cancer. The use of antibiotics did not influence faecal miR-20a levels.

PATIENTS AND METHODS: miR-20a was selected from an expression microarray containing 667 miRNAs. Further verification of miR-20a was performed in 40 pairs of primary CRC tissues, as well as 595 faecal samples (198 CRCs, 199 adenomas, and 198 healthy controls) using TaqMan probe based quantitative Real-Time PCR (qRT-PCR).

CONCLUSIONS: Faecal-based miR-20a can be utilised as a potential non-invasive biomarker for CRC screening.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1559-68
Number of pages10
Issue number2
Publication statusPrint publication - 12 Jan 2016
Externally publishedYes


  • Adenoma/diagnosis
  • Aged
  • Area Under Curve
  • Biomarkers, Tumor/genetics
  • Carcinoma/diagnosis
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Colorectal Neoplasms/diagnosis
  • Feces/chemistry
  • Female
  • Gene Expression Profiling/methods
  • Humans
  • Male
  • MicroRNAs/genetics
  • Middle Aged
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques
  • Oligonucleotide Array Sequence Analysis
  • Predictive Value of Tests
  • ROC Curve
  • Real-Time Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Reverse Transcriptase Polymerase Chain Reaction
  • Up-Regulation


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