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Meta-analysis of human lung cancer microRNA expression profiling studies comparing cancer tissues with normal tissues

Peng Guan12, Zhihua Yin12, Xuelian Li12, Wei Wu12 and Baosen Zhou12*

Author Affiliations

1 Department of Epidemiology, School of Public Health, China Medical University, Shenyang 110001, China

2 Key Laboratory of Cancer Etiology and Prevention (China Medical University), Liaoning Provincial Department of Education, Liaoning, China

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Journal of Experimental & Clinical Cancer Research 2012, 31:54  doi:10.1186/1756-9966-31-54

Published: 6 June 2012



Lung cancer is the major cause of cancer death globally, it is often diagnosed at an advanced stage and has one of the lowest survival rates of any type of cancer. The common interest in the field of lung cancer research is the identification of biomarkers for early diagnosis and accurate prognosis. There is increasing evidence to suggest that microRNAs play important and complex roles in lung cancer.


A meta-analysis was conducted to review the published microRNA expression profiling studies that compared the microRNAs expression profiles in lung cancer tissues with those in normal lung tissues. A vote-counting strategy that considers the total number of studies reporting its differential expression, the total number of tissue samples used in the studies and the average fold change was employed.


A total of 184 differentially expressed microRNAs were reported in the fourteen microRNA expression profiling studies that compared lung cancer tissues with normal tissues, with 61 microRNAs were reported in at least two studies. In the panel of consistently reported up-regulated microRNAs, miR-210 was reported in nine studies and miR-21 was reported in seven studies. In the consistently reported down-regulated microRNAs, miR-126 was reported in ten studies and miR-30a was reported in eight studies. Four up-regulated microRNAs (miR-210, miR-21, miR-31 and miR-182) and two down-regulated mcroiRNAs (miR-126 and miR-145) were consistently reported both in squamous carcinoma and adenocarcinoma-based subgroup analysis, with the other 14 microRNAs solely reported in one or the other subset.


In conclusion, the top two most consistently reported up-regulated microRNAs were miR-210 and miR-21. The results of this meta-analysis of human lung cancer microRNA expression profiling studies might provide some clues of the potential biomarkers in lung cancer. Further mechanistic and external validation studies are needed for their clinical significance and role in the development of lung cancer.

MicroRNAs; Profiling; Lung cancer; Meta-analysis